The Food and Drug Administration’s March 22 import alert for Japanese food tainted by radiation from a failed nuclear power plant will have no effect on produce availability and trade in the U.S., government sources said March 23.

In its alert, the FDA said there was no risk to the U.S. food supply but instructed field personnel to deny U.S. entry to fresh produce, dairy products and infant formula from Japan’s Kawamata Town, Fukushima Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture. Those areas are near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that has been damaged by the March 11 tsunami.

Japan is the source of only 4% of U.S. food imports, and the majority of that is seafood. U.S. imports of Japanese agricultural products total about $557 million in 2010, compared to U.S. agricultural exports to Japan of close to $11.8 billion.

Very little if any fresh produce from Japan is shipped to the U.S. under normal circumstances, said Koji Suzuki, vice president of Bellevue, Wash.-based Jaspo Inc. Jaspo specializes in the Japanese market for fresh produce exports.

“We never see Japanese vegetables,” he said March 23. Plant health quarantine rules prevent entry of nearly all fresh produce from Japan, he said.

The FDA said Japan’s major food exports to the U.S. include seafood, snack food products and processed fruits and vegetables.

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan resulted in a tsunami that disabled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, which is near the prefectures of Fukushima, Gunma Ibaraki, and Tochigi.

Japanese authorities on March 19 had confirmed the presence of radioactive iodine contamination in dairy, fresh produce, and infant formula products. Japanese regulators found those food products from the indicated areas contained radioactive iodine at five times the acceptable limits.

Japan's radiation not a concern for fresh produce in U.S.