24 Mar 2011

NZ not banning Japanese food imports

8:52 pm on 24 March 2011

New Zealand is not joining other countries in banning food imports from areas near Japan's crippled nuclear power plant.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant was badly damaged after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the country's north-east coast on 11 March.

Engineers have been battling to cool the reactors and spent fuel ponds to avoid a large-scale release of radiation.

Tens of thousands of people living in the region have been evacuated and radiation has contaminated drinking water, milk and vegetables.

The United States, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore have imposed bans on a range of food from Japan amid radiation fears. Canada and Britain are taking similar steps.

New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says it is working with importers to ensure that imported food is safe to eat.

MAF says it has the capacity to test food for radiation. Products imported from Japan include noodles, saki, soy sauce and seaweed.