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Japanese green tea leaves sample with low radioactivity levels detected (with photo)

     A green tea leaves sample, imported from Japan and collected from a local retail outlet during surveillance, has been found to have low radioactivity levels, a spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said today (April 3). However, there is no health concern in consuming the product concerned.

     Product details are as follows:

Product name: Tokan Maruko Yabuk Ta Ban Cha (Green Tea)
Manufacturer: Ochano Maruko Co Ltd
Place of origin: Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
Packing size: 400 grams
Best before date: July 29, 2012

     "The green tea leaves sample was collected from a local supermarket for radiation testing under the regular Food Surveillance Programme last Wednesday (March 28)," the CFS spokesman said.

     "The test result showed that low levels of radioactive substances, Caesium-134 (Cs-134) and Caesium-137 (Cs-137), were detected at 11 Bq/kg and 19 Bq/kg respectively. However, the detected levels did not exceed the guideline levels of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (i.e. 1,000 Bq/kg)," he added.

     Dietary exposure estimation revealed that the internal dose for Cs-134 and Cs-137 from consuming tea prepared with the green tea leaves sample by even high consumers (with a daily consumption of about 14 grams of tea leaves) would not pose adverse health effects, the spokesman said.

     "The total internal dose for radioactive substances of high consumers from consuming the green tea leaves sample for one year is approximately 0.0024 millisievert (mSv), far less than the radiation dose received during a chest X-ray examination (about 0.05 mSv)," the spokesman noted.

     Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, the CFS has contacted the local importer/retailer. The vendor concerned has voluntarily suspended sale and initiated a free exchange of the affected batch of the product. A hotline has been set up at 2885 0331 to answer consumers' enquiries about the exchange arrangements during office hours.

     "Consuming the tea leaves sample concerned will not result in adverse health effects. But if people are worried, they may choose not to consume the affected batch of the product," the spokesman said.

     In response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident caused by the earthquake in Japan in March last year, the CFS has been conducting targeted radiation testing on food imported from Japan at import, wholesale and retail levels since March 12 last year.

     The Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene also issued an order under section 78B of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) on March 23 last year to prohibit import of certain fresh produce, milk, milk beverages and milk powder from five affected prefectures (Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma) of Japan. The order is still effective.

     The CFS will closely monitor information from Japan as well as the radiation testing results of Japanese food products in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

     The CFS will review and adjust, if necessary, the surveillance strategy on food products imported from Japan in a timely manner, making reference to the recommendations of international authorities including the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Ends/Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:35


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