Japanese food on campus safe to eat, says NUS vendors
By Lee Chou Li
Apr. 28 2011
Vendors selling Japanese cuisine at the engineering and arts and social sciences faculties at the National University of Singapore have confirmed that the food they sell is safe to eat.
The Japanese food stall holders said their ingredients are not imported from Japan, and are thus free from the risk of radioactive contamination.
A stall holder from the Japanese food stall at the engineering faculty said the ingredients used in their food are imported from Malaysia.
There is an increase in the coverage of consumer concerns over Japanese food products in Singapore newspapers following reports of radioactive contamination of agricultural products and water sources in the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, north-east of Tokyo, Japan.
The power plant, damaged in a 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, released nuclear radiation to the surrounding areas.
Senior manager of NUS’ retail and dining services David Ang Siew Lin said he is confident that the Singapore government’s checks on food imports into Singapore will ensure that food sold in NUS remains safe.
“Our government is taking all actions to stop imports from the affected areas. Even if our operators want to import their materials from Japan, they will not be able to,” Ang said.
However, Ang said there are no plans by the university to issue notices regarding on-campus food safety until he receives further notice.
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore has been testing all fresh produce from Japan for nuclear contamination under the hold-and-test surveillance program one week after the earthquake.
Under the hold-and-test surveillance program, products imported from Japan “will only be released for sale when test results show that there is no radioactive contamination,” the AVA wrote in a March 26 press release on March 26. The AVA also wrote that thean entire shipment of products would be disposed off if any product in the shipment contained radioactive contaminants.
The World Health Organization wrote in an advisory on its website that food contaminated by radiation has to be consumed over prolonged periods to represent a risk to human health.
However, since March 25, batches of vegetables from areas surrounding the site of the damaged nuclear plant have been withheld and destroyed after being tested positive for trace amounts of radioactive contaminants.
Food imports from affected areas have been suspended, AVA wrote on its website.
AVA also wrote that it has “expanded the testing of food products from Japan to include high-risk processed food such as infant formula and fresh dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cream.”
NUS student Jane Chen Kebin said she believes the Japanese food sold in Singapore, including NUS, is safe for consumption.
“I think the effect here is quite small,” she said, referring to radiation contamination. She said she does not think that NUS food vendors will use Japan-imported ingredients.
“I don’t think they use Japanese imports anyway. It’s too expensive for canteen stalls,” she said.
But Chen said her mother has advised her and her siblings to stay away from Japanese food when eating out.
“She asked us not to eat raw fish and try to avoid Japanese restaurants,” she said.
Her fellow course mate Deng Xinying also said she believes the food sold in Singapore is safe to consume, “since AVA has reported that most of the food ingredients used by Japanese food outlets are not imported from Japan.”
While Deng said she would not avoid Japanese food, she would consider her friends’ preference should she dine out with them. She also said she would switch to other food choices should the friends she dine out with are uncomfortable eating Japanese food.
According to the AVA website, Singapore’s food supply will be minimally affected since less than two percent of Singapore’s seafood imports and 0.5 percent of other food products in 2010 were from Japan.