Radiation fears stop imports of Japanese food

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Radiation fears stop imports of Japanese food

As worries over radiation from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan continue to spread, some local major retailers have stopped importing select seafood products from Japan in response to consumer worries.

Other nations have also expressed concerns about Japanese food products being affected by radiation from the damaged nuclear facility in Fukushima.

Lotte Mart, the third-largest discount store chain in Korea, said yesterday that it will cease sales of whole pollack starting today. In Korea, whole pollack is almost exclusively imported from Japan.

“The safety [of the whole pollack] was confirmed while clearing customs, but consumer concerns that the shipment might have been exposed to radiation continued to mount,” said a Lotte Mart official. “Lotte Mart has decided to sell whole pollack only until [today] when the existing inventory is expected to run out.”

With the sale of whole pollack being discontinued for the time being, Lotte Mart said that it had obtained a 30 percent additional supply of frozen pollack from Russia as a viable substitute.

As for mackerel, Lotte Mart has switched from Japan to buying frozen mackerel from Norway in the face of expensive domestic mackerel prices, both whole and frozen.

Major retailer Shinsegae Department Store has also struck Japanese seafood from its import list. It stopped importing Pacific saury and whole pollack from Japan immediately after the earthquake.

“We expect to be able to begin importing again after the situation in Japan becomes stable and a thorough scanning system for radiation by the government is set up,” said a Shinsegae spokesperson.

However, Shinsegae will continue selling Japanese processed foods such as chocolate, cookies, beverages, soy sauce and other seasonings as well as health foods, as it had secured three to four months worth of inventory before the earthquake hit.

Homeplus will also stop selling whole pollack from Japan as of today.

“The supply of whole pollack handled by Homeplus is unconnected with the risk of exposure as the supply was caught near Hokkaido - some several hundred kilometers away from the source of the radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant,” the company said.

By Lee Jung-yoon [joyce@joongang.co.kr]
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