Irradiated Food Ingredients
Are irradiated food ingredients imported into Japan? Food Safety Citizen’s Watch has more details with a report from a meeting with government officials and food companies.
Food irradiation using gamma rays etc. damages the DNA of bacteria and has sterilization effects. Food irradiation has also been used to kill insects and stop germination. The efforts to promote food irradiation are supported by Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission. The Ministry for Health, Labour and Welfare is making preparations for allowing the controversial technology to be used on spices by the end of March 2008.
Against this background, it was reported on June 1, 2007, that Kikkoman Corp. had recalled a product called SoyAct, due to the possibility of irradiation in the United States. Importing irradiated food is illegal in Japan. On November 15, a meeting was held at the Japanese Parliament with Assembly Members from several political parties, officials from the Health Ministry, and from the Food Safety Commission. The Food Irradiation Opposition Campaign Group representing consumers who oppose food irradiation was also present at the meeting.
On this occasion, it was pointed out that the biggest problem was to get factual verification whether SoyAct had been irradiated or not in the United States. After Kikkoman had announced its recall, the Ministry of Health sent a letter with questions to the US Food and Drug Administration via the US embassy on June 5, 2007. A formal reply was not received until August 24, but this lacked any details if irradiation had taken place or not. The Japanese government then made a second formal request to get factual verification, but has not yet received any reply from the United States. And only about 2% of the suspect ingredients had been recalled by Kikkoman Corp.