UPDATE 1-China, S. Korea tighten Japan food checks, WHO warns on safety

Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:48am GMT

* China, S. Korea toughen checks on Japanese food

* More cases of contaminated food seen -- expert

* Asian consumers worry about safety of Japanese foods

(Adds Chinese Foreign Minister in paragraph 3)

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING, March 21 (Reuters) - China and South Korea announced on Monday they will toughen checks of Japanese food for radioactivity, hours after the World Health Organisation said the detection of radiation in some food in Japan was a more serious problem than it had expected.

China will monitor food imported from Japan for signs of radiation, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing the national quality watchdog, while South Korea will widen radiation inspections to dried agricultural and processed food from fresh agricultural produce.

"Japan's nuclear leak has sounded an alarm bell for the international community about the safety of nuclear energy," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a speech on Monday, a transcript of which was posted on his ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.cn).

The WHO said it had no evidence of contaminated food spreading internationally, but officials in Japan's Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures, the areas closest to the earthquake-damaged Daiichi nuclear plant, found higher than usual levels of iodine in samples of spinach and milk.   Continued...

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