Radiation-Tainted Food Serious Problem for Japan

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The World Health Organization says Japanese produce tainted by radiation may pose a more serious problem than originally thought.

"It's a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that his kind of problem can be limited to 20-30 kilometers [about 12-18 miles]," WHO Spokesman Peter Cordingley told Reuters. Cordingly serves at WHO's Manilla-based Western Pacific regional office.

Despite official assessments that contamination levels are non-threatening, concern is rising among the Japanese populace.

Residents near the Fukushima nuclear plant have been instructed not to drink the water, which has tested positive for high levels of radioactive iodine.

So far, the government has prohibited the sale of spinach and raw milk from the Fukushima prefecture and more restrictions may be forthcoming on Monday.

"We can't make any link between Dai-ichi and the export market," Cordingly said. "But it's safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone."

While it is difficult to know the origin of food that has tested positive for radioactive contamination, Cordingly said WHO hoped to provide more specific guidance later on Monday after its Geneva-based experts evaluated the situation more specifically.

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