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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 January 30 - February 5  > Japan fails to inspect imported processed food for pesticides
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2008 January 30 - February 5 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Japan fails to inspect imported processed food for pesticides

February 1, 2008
Food-poisoning cases caused by Chinese-made frozen meat dumplings tainted with pesticides have provoked anxiety among consumers as the number of people that reported getting sick after eating frozen food surpassed 400 in 34 prefectures as of January 31, one day after the poisoning cases were made public.

It was revealed that the Health Ministry’s quarantine stations did not inspect the food product for pesticide residues, and Japan’s poor quarantine system is increasingly blamed for the poisoning cases.

In fact, the ministry in FY 2007 planned to inspect only 26,400 out of some two million imported food products for pesticide residues. The ministry said that frozen processed food like meat dumplings have been excluded from the inspection process.

The number of food safety inspectors at about 30 stations across the country is only 334, insufficient to handle the increasing number of imported processed food products.

The ministry in 2006 started to inspect processed food as well as meat and fish for pesticide residues. However, with the deregulations made in the Food Sanitation Law in 1995, the government introduced a sample test called the monitoring inspection system. The sampling rate of imported food products has been reduced to three to 10 percent.

Japanese Communist Party House of Councilors member Kami Tomoko said, “The recent food-poisoning cases shed light on Japan’s defective inspection system for which the government is solely responsible. It is necessary to raise the inspection rate of imported food products and drastically improve the inspection system, including increases in the number of inspectors. It is also important to curb Japan’s reliance on imported food products.”
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