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Food to be tested for radiation

[ 2011-03-29 10:31]     字号 [] [] []  
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The Ministry of Health has ordered local administrations in 14 places including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and some coastal provinces to test drinking water and food for radiation, according to an online statement issued on Sunday.

The announcement came after the authority had confirmed over the weekend that the level of radiation stemming from iodine-131, a radioactive isotope, was higher than usual in four counties in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province.

Exposure to iodine-131 can cause several diseases including thyroid cancer, according to the statement.

Even so, the Ministry of Health said the radiation level detected in Heilongjiang was too low to pose a danger.

"Based on the current situation, people don't need to worry about the contamination of the air or of food and water here," said Wang Zhongwen, a researcher at the China Institute of Atomic Energy's radiation safety department.

As for the radiation testing ordered by the ministry, Wang said it was part of routine inspections of food and water undertaken in many parts of the country.

Largely in response to various scandals involving tainted food in recent years, China has become ever more painstaking in its attempts at ensuring the safety of its food.

Many countries routinely test the radiation levels of their domestic food and water supplies. China, though, only has the means to conduct such tests in a few regions, not across the entire country, Wang noted.

"The Japan nuclear incident might help shorten the time it will take to establish similar testing in other places in the country," he said.

To prevent contamination, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has prohibited the importation of some Japanese foods, including dairy products, seafood and vegetables.

Meanwhile, the Chinese public, including residents of the counties where the higher level of radiation was found, remains unfazed.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Food to be tested for radiation

About the broadcaster:

Food to be tested for radiation

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.