Japan: Ministry bans import of contaminated Australian barley

The detection of unacceptable high levels of the fungicide azoxystrobin has caused the Japanese Government to ban import of some Australian barley to the country. About 450,000 units of cereal products and yoghurt bowls from Nissin Cisco and Luna that contained the contaminated barley have been recalled across Japan but it is believed that most of the tainted food has already been eaten.

A comparatively small batch of 85 tons of the barley, which had supposedly been sourced from farms in New South Wales, Australia, and which was shipped last August by Itochu Corporation contained fungicide levels five times above acceptable limits. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is now investigating and analyzing all shipments of Australian barley and has banned future shipments of barley from Itochu.

"Itochu says something possibly happened between harvesting and shipping, perhaps during the cleaning process, but they are still investigating," Mr. Tetsuo Ushikusa, Director - Food Security Division at the MAFF said. "In the last 14-15 years, azoxystrobin has never been detected from Australian imports — not even a tiny amount," he added.

No contaminated Australian barley, which is used in malt or beer, has so far been detected.

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