Food produced around the Fukushima nuclear disaster site could be making its way on to British shelves because of loopholes in safety rules, The Independent can reveal.
Products contaminated by radiation, including tea, noodles and chocolate bars, have already been exported from Japan under the cover of false labelling by fraudsters.
In pictures: How the fraud works
Experts warned that Britain’s food regulations were not strong enough to prevent these kinds of contaminated products – which are fraudulently marked as coming from radiation-free regions of Japan – from entering the UK. This raises the prospect of mildly carcinogenic ingredients entering the food system.
The alarm is being sounded after Taiwanese investigators uncovered more than 100 radioactive food products which had been produced in Fukushima but falsely packaged to give their origin as Tokyo.
The Fukushima disaster in March 2011 released radiation to the atmosphere – even outside the food-production exclusion zone The Fukushima disaster in March 2011 released radiation to the atmosphere – even outside the food-production exclusion zone (EPA)
There is no firm evidence that any radioactive food has entered the UK, but experts say there is a risk, and products could already have arrived.
“I suspect what has happened in Taiwan might well have already happened in the UK. Intermediary supply chain middlemen can buy food in bulk and package and label as they like – before shipping them to the UK,” said Alastair Marke, a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and principal adviser in London to Shantalla, a food safety consultancy.
“Although we have adopted one of the world’s most comprehensive and stringent traceability laws, the UK has virtually no control over how foods are processed, manufactured and packaged in Japan.”
Any food produced for export in the “danger zone” around Fukushima, in northern Japan, must be declared as such so that it can be tested for radiation before leaving the country and again when it reaches the UK border.