A sure sign of summer: Food safety in the news

Food safety is always a big topic in Japan, especially in the summer time. Today, there are several stories in the news, including food irradiation, BSE and a NHK feature program about residues of chemicals on foreign foods. Since Japan imports a lot of its food from other countries, there are often opinion polls that ask people if they trust food from certain countries and so on. For readers in other countries reading such polls, that may seem like a leading question and some may even take it as an example of a xenophobic attitude (Indeed, the Crisscross news site has some of the most ridiculous debates about Japan).

In the case of BSE and meat imports from North America, today's opinion poll in Asahi reveals the following:

When asked about the planned resumption of U.S. beef imports, 52 percent opposed, compared with 37 percent who supported it. Moreover, 71 percent said they do not want to eat American beef even after the resumption, the highest percentage in surveys that have asked this question.

Also in the news, a panel at Japan's Atomic Energy Commission has recommended that Japan should allow food irradiation to kill bacteria in food. This controversial practice is not currently allowed, except for potatoes (to stop germination, not to kill bacteria). NHK noted that when the food industry tried to introduce food irradiation 18 years ago, there was no public support, and the plan was shelved. Consumer groups strongly oppose food irradiation for a number of reasons.

The NHK feature program about new rules for agrichemicals on foods can be found on the Radio Japan website, and then click on "Thursday".

Finally, since the temperatures have really begun to rise now, here are some links to cool CM videos with Japanese beer commercials - another sure sign of summer (thanks Mari!):



Yebisu Eel on rice - a popular summer food
Kirin Actor and "talent" Sato Koichi
Suntory and
Carlsberg with scenes from Scandinavia!

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