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No need to fear food imported from Japan – or airline passengers, L.A. County health officials say

March 22, 2011 |  7:00 am

Los Angeles County health officials reassured residents Monday that there was no risk of nuclear radiation from Japan contaminating county food and drinking water or spreading via arriving airline passengers.

"Food and livestock produced and grown in California are not at risk, as there is no indication that harmful levels of radiation will reach our state. Drinking water supplies in Los Angeles County are frequently monitored to ensure safety. There is no risk to the water supply," said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county's public health chief. "Food and other products previously imported from Japan into our state are also safe, as these were produced and distributed well before this tragedy occurred," he said, referring to Japan's nuclear power plant problems in the wake of that country's recent major earthquake and tsunami.

Fielding's office released a statement Monday noting that the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture were both monitoring the situation in Japan and working with the Japanese government to ensure the safety of all imports into the U.S., including food.

Fielding also said that airline passengers arriving from Japan do not pose a health risk. LAX and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are using radiation detection devices to screen new arrivals and their baggage, the statement said. If decontamination is needed, typical actions would include removing affected clothing and washing with soap and water.

He also reiterated warnings that people should avoid taking potassium iodide (KI) because it is ineffective and could cause side effects.


UC and Cal State pull all students out of programs in Japan

Customs officials monitoring radiation on incoming LAX passengers from Japan

Animated map shows radioactive material's path across Pacific toward California

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske