Hong Kong bans Japanese food imports

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 24 2011 02:00 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2011 10:00 AM

HONG KONG, China - Hong Kong said Wednesday it will ban a wide variety of Japanese food imports after radiation contamination was found in vegetables shipped from the quake-stricken country.

Hong Kong's Food and Environmental Hygiene department said Wednesday that contamination was found on three samples of vegetables, while broadcaster RTHK reported that the readings were as much as 10 times above safe levels.

"Three samples of vegetables were found to have been contaminated," a department spokesman said without elaborating.

The Hong Kong ban applies to dairy products, fruit, vegetables and meat from five prefectures near the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was hit by a powerful quake and tsunami on March 11, followed by a series of explosions and fires.

Poultry and seafood imports will also be banned unless first given safety clearance from Japanese officials, according to Clement Leung, head of the city's food bureau.

The ban came after officials detected radiation levels beyond safety limits on Wednesday at Hong Kong's international airport, Leung told a press conference.

"We have reason to believe that radiation contaminated food has been exported out of Japan," he said.

"I will issue an order to ban contaminated food from Chiba, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma (prefectures)."

He added that "whatever is harvested or produced" in the five prefectures will be subject to the import ban. It was not