TRUTHFUL? The Green Consumers’ Foundation claims that a Ministry of Health and Welfare report on Japanese food imports contains false and inaccurate information
Green Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jay Fang, right, presses the doorbell of the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday to file a lawsuit against Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien following the release of a ministry report on food imports from Japan.
Green Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jay Fang (方儉) yesterday filed a lawsuit against Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office accusing the minister of “forgery,” claiming that the ministry’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used false data in its report on easing restrictions on Japanese food imports from the five prefectures closest to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which suffered a meltdown in March 2011.
Fang said that the government’s report provided at the weekend at public hearings on lifting the ban on imports of Japanese food items from the five prefectures contained false data that could mislead the public.
He said the report claims that “only China and Taiwan still impose a total ban on food imports from the five prefectures closest to Fukushima [Dai-ichi],” but the US FDA had issued an alert last month stating that the coast guard “may detain, without physical examination,” certain specified products from firms in 14 prefectures near Fukushima Dai-ichi.
The report also claims that “the standard [for acceptable radiation levels in food] in Taiwan is the same as other nations,” but Taiwan has looser standards than many nations, he added.
He said the government in January established 100 becquerel per kilogram (Bq/kg) as the standard radiation limit for food, but another 100Bq/kg was set as the standard radiation limit for iodine-131, meaning the total limit is 200Bq/kg.
“Is the Ministry of Health and Welfare protecting the public’s health or is it protecting radiation-contaminated food and feeding it to us?” Fan asked, urging the government to provide truthful data to the public.
In response, FDA Deputy Director Lin Ching-fu (林金富) said the ministry regrets that Fan has misread its data and that the ministry had not forged any data, adding that Fan, having filed a lawsuit, should be held to the equivalent legal liability.
FDA Division of Food Safety official Cheng Wei-chih (鄭維智) said safety standard for general food items is 100Bq/kg for “iodine-131” and 100Bq/kg for “cesium-134 and cesium-137,” and that the radioisotopes are examined separately.