U.S. Seeks to Reassure on Contaminated Food


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U.S. public-health officials sought Tuesday to reassure consumers about the safety of food in the U.S., including seafood, amid news that fish contaminated with unusually high levels of radioactive materials had been caught in waters 50 miles from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
No contaminated fish have turned up in the U.S., or in U.S. waters, according to experts from the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They expressed confidence that even a single fish sufficiently contaminated to pose a risk to human health would be detected by the U.S. monitoring system.
They also dismissed concerns that eating fish contaminated at the levels seen so far in Japan would pose such a risk.
Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC in Atlanta, said he expected continued detection of low levels of radioactive elements in the water, air and food in the U.S. in coming days, but that readings at those levels "do not indicate any level of public health concern."
He also said no one in the U.S. should be taking potassium iodide as a preventive measure against possible ingestion of radioactive iodine-131.
The FDA, which has been monitoring produce and other foods coming from Japan, hinted that further import restrictions could be forthcoming following Japanese authorities' re-evaluation of its own policies. Domestic restrictions on produce in Japan could be expanded to include several more towns.
The FDA declined to give an estimate of when its tightened restrictions could be introduced, saying it had first to conduct its own review of data.
"As those [Japanese] restrictions change, yes, our efforts to assure that we have the safety net in place change as well," said David Elder, head of the FDA's division of regional operations, in a press briefing.
"Certainly we are aware of changing restrictions that are going into place [in Japan] and we are adjusting our criteria," he said.
U.S. Seeks to Reassure on Contaminated Food - WSJ.com

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