EU moves to stop radioactive mushroom imports

More controls proposed to prevent Chernobyl-contaminated mushrooms reaching consumers

The EU is to strengthen controls on mushroom imports from central and eastern European (CEE) countries following an unusual spurt in the number of shipments reported to be radioactively contaminated. Contamination of mushrooms and other forest products with radioactive caesium has been a continuing problem since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The European Commission convened an urgent meeting of a regulatory committee yesterday after receiving 19 notifications of contaminated shipments from Austria, Germany and France in quick succession. The Commission said today that, following the committee meeting, it is planning to issue a new regulation imposing stricter controls on mushroom imports. In particular, this will require EU countries to monitor mushroom imports more intensively for radioactive contamination and to define points of entry of mushrooms imported from countries such as Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Belarus and Ukraine. The new controls will not be in place in time for this year's mush room season, a Commission official told ENDS Daily, but EU countries are being asked to take voluntary steps to improve screening for the time being. Created shortly after the Chernobyl accident, the EU ad hoc committee on foodstuffs last met two years ago and before the latest reports of contamination was not due to be convened again until 1999.

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