New rules on imports from Japan

The rules on food imports from Japan, following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station on 11 March 2011, were until recently imposed by Regulation 284/2012. This has now been replaced by Regulation 996/2012 governing imports of Japanese food and animal feed. This Regulation notes that, since 2002, Regulation 178/2002 on the general principles and requirements of EU food law has provided for the possibility of adopting appropriate EU emergency measures for food and feed imported from a third (non EU) country in order to protect public health, animal health or the environment, where the risk cannot be contained satisfactorily by means of measures taken by the Member States individually.

Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station, the European Commission was informed that radionuclide levels in certain food products originating in Japan — such as milk and spinach — exceeded the action levels in food applicable in that country. Such contamination may constitute a threat to public and animal health in the EU and the European Commission (EC) therefore imposed special conditions governing the imports of feed and food originating in or consigned from Japan. Keeping the situation under review, the EC has replaced the relevant regulation on a number of occasions. The most recent version (Regulation 284/2012) applies from its date of entry into force (30 October 2012) until 31 March 2014.

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