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S. Korea detects tiny amounts of radiation in Japanese food

By Shinhye Kang and Sungwoo Park
Bloomberg News

LAST UPDATED: 2:40 a.m. HST, Mar 30, 2011

South Korea detected tiny amounts of radiation in food imported from Japan since the earthquake and tsunami that crippled a nuclear plant in Fukushima, according to Korea's state food agency.

Small amounts of iodine and cesium were found in 14 samples, from 244 tests of food imported from Japan, the Korea Food & Drug Administration said in an e-mailed statement today. The amounts are not harmful and the food is safe to eat, it said.

South Korea has been conducting radioactivity tests on all food imports from Japan since March 14 because of concerns about possible radiation contamination. On March 25, the South Korean government halted imports of some food barred by Japan because of the concern.

The radiation levels detected ranged from 0.08 Becquerels per kilogram to 0.6 Becquerels per kilogram, the Korean agency said. The maximum tolerable levels by South Korean standards are 370 Becquerels per kilogram for radioactive cesium and 300 Becquerels per kilogram for iodine-131, it said.

Japan's health ministry tentatively set tolerable levels of radioactivity for grains including rice at 500 Becquerels per kilogram of cesium and 100 Becquerels per kilogram of uranium.

The foods from Japan with radiation included biscuits, processed beans, bread and liquor and came from areas ranging from the north island of Hokkaido to Kyoto, according to today's statement from the Korean agency.

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