In the wake of rising global concerns over the release of treated radioactive water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, Thailand Consumers Council (TCC) has issued an unequivocal call to the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Fisheries. The strongly worded plea urges both bodies to enforce stricter regulations and apply tighter controls on imported Japanese seafood products.
Following a series of bans instituted by several countries, the TCC official, Panuchot Tongyang voiced out his concern yesterday. Among those that have decided to suspend imports of Japanese seafood such as live sea animals, frozen and dried seafood, sea salt, and seaweed, are China, Hong Kong, and South Korea, largely due to rising apprehensions about potential radioactive contamination.
The TCC official drew attention to the wreckage left by the year 2011’s nuclear catastrophe that led to Fukushima’s temporary shut down, further spreading radioactive material into the surrounding areas. Despite constant assurances, Mr. Panuchot emphasized it is crucial for the authorities to realize that reports have since indicated higher levels of radioactive substance present in these areas, prompting serious concerns about the security of the seafood supply.
Expressing solidarity with the public’s apprehensions, Mr. Panuchot stated, “The FDA and the Department of Fisheries should impose precautionary measures as concerns have grown that consumers might face contaminated seafood. Even though the immediate repercussions of consuming contaminated food are less obvious, potential long-term health impacts can’t be downplayed.”
Mr. Panuchot also added that it’s high time for the state agencies to take the valuable initiative of informing the public about the necessary safety measures while purchasing seafood. Recognizing the looming shadow of doubt over the integrity of imported seafood, he underscored that protecting the public’s health should always be a top priority.
Meanwhile, in response to TCC’s call, the FDA has preferred to adopt a patient approach to the looming crisis. FDA’s deputy secretary-general, Lertchai Lertvut, announced that the FDA, together with various agencies, plans to ramp up the safety measure by doubling the amount of seafood samples subjected to testing, in their bid to reassure the public.
He detailed that the first batch of Japanese seafood products since the post-wastewater-release phase would hit Thai shores in mid-September. The incoming batch is set to undergo stringent inspections to be performed collectively by FDA and fisheries officials, evincing the seriousness of the department in addressing consumer concerns about food safety.