Thursday, November 10, 2011


The Tsunami floods that destroyed a nuclear reactor in Japan, spewing out deadly radiation all around had a catastrophic consequences for the food industry in that country. Japanese foods were shunned all over the world because of scare regarding their safety. Several countries including India banned imports of Japanese food materials till the situation improved assuring them of their safety. It is almost 6 months since this accident occurred and there are encouraging signs that Japanese foods are regaining their ground which reflect the determination of that country to ensure only safe products are exported. Restaurant sector in many countries serving Japanese foods experienced a jolt as the mere name of Japan evoked unhappy response among the customers, causing grievous injury to the business. Hong Kong sitting practically next door to Japan had to bear the brunt of the business loss but the worst seems to be over with customers returning in large numbers to restaurants known for serving some of the most sought after delicacies of Japanese origin, as per the following report..

"After deserting their favorite Japanese restaurants for several months when the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear accident started in March, Hong Kong people have gradually rekindled their special love for Japanese food. From high-end sushi bars to casual ramen shops, some 700 Japanese restaurants dot the city. Hong Kong, with a population of only about 7 million, had been the world's largest importer of Japanese food products for four consecutive years through 2010. But in the immediate outbreak of the nuclear crisis, many of these restaurants were dealt a harsh blow as Hong Kong diners worried about radiation contamination in Japanese food. Some eateries reported business plummeting by up to 80 percent and a number were forced to close down, local food industry officials said. "People simply lost confidence in eating Japanese food, especially fresh food like sushi," said Simon Wong, chairman of the Hong Kong Food Council. The Japanese consul general in Hong Kong, Yuji Kumamaru, recalled that Hong Kong consumers "very much feared" products imported from Japan due to concerns about the radiation spewed by the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture. "Japanese restaurants here were very much deserted across the board," he said. To lure back patrons, some Japanese restaurants went so far as to put up advertisements assuring consumers that their supplies were either from parts of Japan far from Fukushima Prefecture or came from other countries, including China, Australia and South Africa. Diners slowly began to return around the end of May, and by late August business for most Japanese restaurants and supermarkets specializing in Japanese food had recovered, the Food Council's Wong said."

The Japanese experience must serve as a lesson to other countries which are going on a fast track to establish Nuclear Reactors to augment energy supply so that more stringent norms of safety are incorporated in these power projects. The on-going agitation in Tamilnadu in India, is a typical manifestation of common man's concerns regarding safety of nuclear energy projects and they must be adequately addressed before embarking on any massive program based on nuclear energy. The experience of food industry world over regarding the food irradiation process indicates how suspicious consumers are when it comes to eating irradiated products though their safety has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt!


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