Concerns over radiation in Japanese food products has brought sushi restaurants to their knees and ignited fears of contamination of local food supplies. But a recent World Health Organization update tries to allay worldwide fears being perpetuated by reports about the cloud of radioactive particles spreading around the earth.
"WHO understands this concern, but dispersal of radiation was expected over time and there is no risk to human health outside the affected area at this time, based on scientific information now available," reads the advisory from March 25.
Meanwhile, apprehension over food contamination has resulted in piecemeal measures adopted by major retailers and governments.
The largest sushi chain in Malaysia, Sushi Kin, for example, announced that it has temporarily stopped importing raw food from Japan.
And Hong Kong - the largest market for Japanese food imports - has slapped a ban on the imports of fresh produce, milk, meat, chicken and fish from that country.
Local health authorities are the best way to keep abreast of how Japanese food safety is impacting your kitchen table. Here's a list of some of the major international English-speaking food administrations around the world.
World Health Organization
To get a global view of the situation and the latest updates of the food safety situation in Japan, go to http://www.who.int/hac/crises/jpn/en/index.html. The latest update, on March 31, found that of the 699 food samples tested, 124 foods were above the provisional regulation values. Residents, notably infants, in certain prefectures have also been advised to refrain from drinking tap water.
Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety
As the largest market for Japanese food imports, Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety slapped a ban on the imports of fresh produce, milk, meat, chicken and fish from that country on March 23. For more info, visit http://www.cfs.gov.hk/eindex.html.
US Food and Drug Administration
All milk products and fresh produce from the affected Japanese prefectures are being detained upon entry and inspected. The latest update issued, March 29, says that at this time, there is no risk to the US food supply. http://www.fda.gov
Food Standards Agency, UK
As only 0.1 percent of food imports received by the UK come from Japan, risk is minimal here too. Check back at http://www.food.gov.uk/ for more info.
Singapore's Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority
Singapore suspended fruits and vegetables coming from Japan's affected prefectures as a precautionary measure after low levels of radioactive contaminants were found in vegetable samples. However, the food authority says it's no cause for alarm as an adult would need to consume 184 kg of vegetables to receive an exposure level equivalent to the normal background radiation that a person will be exposed to in a year. http://www.ava.gov.sg/
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
According to the bi-national food standards authority, the risk of exposure to Australian and New Zealand consumers is negligible, as milk and fresh produce are not imported into the countries. Seaweed and seafood also represent a very small proportion of Australia's total imports. http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The CFIA has implemented stricter import controls on all foods from the affected areas in Japan and will be inspecting the foods for contamination before entering the country. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/toce.shtml
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
Indian authorities have also stepped up the surveillance of foods imported from Japan and are sending food samples to labs for testing. For more, visit http://www.fssai.gov.in/.