FDA Publishes Q&A on Radiation Safety, Issues Import Alert

March 23, 2011

By Ricardo Carvajal

Last week FDA published a Q&A that explains steps the agency is taking to ensure that foods imported from Japan are safe.  Currently FDA does not believe there is any risk to the U.S. food supply, but is continuing to gather information and monitor the situation so as to detect any potential risks.  In response, Rep. DeLauro wrote a letter to Commissioner Hamburg asking the agency to explain the basis for some of the statements in the Q&A, and urging radiological testing of all food imported from Japan. 

This week, FDA followed up on its Q&A by issuing an Import Alert that targets specified products from certain prefectures in Japan based on the potential for contamination with radionuclides.  FDA has a compliance policy guide that provides guidance levels for radionuclides in domestic and imported foods. FDA also has a guidance document that provides recommendations for state and local agencies to help them respond to incidents of contamination with radionuclides. Both documents incorporate information learned in the wake of the Chernobyl accident.

FDA's Q&A also addresses the availability of FDA-approved drugs for radiation exposure.  FDA warns consumers against “internet sites and other retail outlets promoting products making false claims to prevent or treat effects of radiation or products that are not FDA-approved.”  Recent history suggests that some of those retail outlets may be the target of warning letters issued by FDA, and perhaps the Federal Trade Commission.