Thailand to test food from Japan for radiation

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Tuesday, 15 March 2011 05:34 GMT

BANGKOK, March 15 (Reuters) - Thailand will randomly test imported Japanese food products for possible radiation contamination, the country's Food and Drug Administration said, after Japan warned of more radiation leakage from a power plant.

There have been four explosions at the plant in Fukushima, north of Tokyo, since it was damaged in last Friday's massive earthquake. [ID:nLDE72D2FT]

"We will give priority to fresh food and fresh produce including vegetables and fruit from Japan," Pipat Yingsaree, secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Pipat said the authorities would urge food importers to avoid or at least reduce imports of Japanese food products including meat, dairy products, seafood and seaweed.

Thailand has a big Japanese population of over 45,000 in major cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the industrial provinces of Chonburi and Rayong.

Imported Japanese food products such as chocolate, ice cream and cookies are considered luxury items by Thais and are popular in gourmet supermarkets.

"We are very sympathetic toward the Japanese but consumer safety must come first," Pipat said. "Radiation level tests are not part of our standard procedure but we are introducing a random test, given the worries over this."

Pipat said the authorities were ready to step up their safety measures and test all food products from Japan if necessary.

Thailand's Office of Atoms for Peace, part of the Ministry of Science, said it would work with food authorities in testing products from Japan and had protectively installed radiation testing devices in major cities.

"We are randomly buying products from Japanese restaurants and Japanese supermarkets as well to test the current levels," said Suchin Udomsomporn, a radiology physicist at OAP.

"Products tested now were probably imported last week so it's not a problem, but we want to have a standard level to measure against." (Reporting by Ambika Ahuja; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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