Following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011, considerable public concern arose regarding the management of food in and from Japan. These concerns were raised in Japan, as well as in surrounding countries. Unfortunately, it was quickly realised that the existing frameworks for decision-making with regard to food safety seemed inadequate for addressing the challenges presented by this unprecedented event.
The areas affected by the accident are heavily agricultural, producing many food products, including rice, vegetables, beef, persimmons and peaches. In addition, the area is an important region for fisheries in Japan. The food products of the region had been very well-regarded both in Japan and abroad. However, some of the people living in affected areas remain concerned for their health and for their future livelihood.
In the aftermath of the accident, populations living outside the directly affected areas were also concerned about consuming food products from Fukushima. In Tokyo, which is located approximately 240 km south of Fukushima, some shops ceased entirely to carry certain food items, simply because the best examples were commonly from the Fukushima region. Many of Japan’s trading partners, which were concerned about importing food thought to be contaminated, showed similar reactions.
These concerns posed a complex, multi-layered problem with local, national and international implications, for which there were no broad, internationally-agreed approaches. This stands as an important lesson to be absorbed from the accident and highlights a need for international focus.
To secure distribution of safe agricultural and livestock products, good agricultural practices to produce safe food and feed, including reduction measures of radionuclides from farmland, have been implemented in Japan. The regulation limits have been set consistent with the approach stipulated in the international standards/guidelines, i.e. Codex guidelines. Food monitoring/inspection has also been conducted for enormous samples every year. These measures have been combined to allow distribution of safe Japanese food.
Many national governments and international organisations have focused on these issues since the accident. This workshop will discuss the science supporting food safety standards, the science of managing contamination levels in food products to meet food safety standards, and the local, national and international organisational aspects to take into consideration to ensure food safety.
The workshop was held as a series of plenary sessions featuring presentations by invited speakers. It also included discussions centred on the workshop objectives.
The working languages of the workshop were English and Japanese with simultaneous translation.
The workshop was followed by a meeting, which was open to public, to present the results of the discussions.