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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 November 26 - December 2  > Government list shows over 38,000 tons of illegal food products were imported in 2007
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2008 November 26 - December 2 [AGRICULTURE]

Government list shows over 38,000 tons of illegal food products were imported in 2007

November 26, 2008
Japan imported more than 38,200 tons of foreign produce contaminated with residual pesticides or poisonous molds in the FY 2007 (April 2007-March 2008) as nonfood items in order to evade the Food Sanitation Law that provides that such products should be disposed of or returned to their countries of origin.

This fact came to light on November 25 through a Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare quarantine station list obtained by Japanese Communist Party representative Kami Tomoko (House of Councilors).

The list shows that 36,650 tons of corn, 764 tons of rice, 130 tons of wheat, and 18 tons of soybeans were imported for consumption as animal feed; about 11tons of green (spring) onions from China as fertilizer; and 80 tons of rice powder and 598 tons of rice for glue.

Although the law prohibits tainted farm produce from being imported for human consumption, the ministry does not take any effective measures to prevent it from being sold as food, leaving its prevention to the voluntary efforts of importers.

As the government does not have oversight over distribution, no one knows for sure how the imported produce is actually used, and no one can exclude the possibility that it is on sale as food.

Kami said, “With no measures established to prevent illegal farm produce from being sold for human consumption, the government should not allow tainted farm produce to be brought into Japan unless it is for use as a non-food item. Without an oversight system, no one can say for sure that these products are not illegally resold as food for human consumption. It is also a problem that moldy corn is used as animal feed. The government must conduct an investigation to check to make sure that such farm produce is not distributed.”
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