Supermarkets and Japanese restaurants located in Hong Kong put out prominent notices on Thursday saying they offer Norwegian salmon or Canadian shellfish. Japan continued to implement a controversial proposal of releasing radioactive treated water into the ocean.
At a Causeway Bay branch of the Wellcome supermarket chain, a sign in the sushi department identified the different sources of fresh fish being offered.
The company stated that the salmon was sourced from Norway, Shrimp sashimi from Argentina, and the sea urchin, surf clams, and green whelks from Canada.
An embargo on Japanese imports of seafood came into effect on Thursday.
The effort to reassure the public regarding the origins of products came after Hong Kong banned aquatic products from 10 Japanese prefectures following the country’s releasing wastewater treated from the Fukushima nuclear power station in the Pacific Ocean. The city’s administration has intensified tests of imports of food from Japan.
In a Causeway Bay branch of City’super, a ajority of the seafood offered was labeled by the country of origin. An advertisement stated that the products that were provided from the affected regions were brought in prior to Thursday.
“Customers can shop with us with peace of mind,” the sign said.
Shoppers sat and scanned the labels on the boxes of sushi and sashimi. However, the majority of shoppers who were approached by the Post stated that they were confident that the tests conducted by the Hong Kong government would be carried out on Japanese imports of food.
“I think the government has chosen to be more conservative for the good of public health, and I believe that any seafood they allow on the market is safe,” said Angel Tai, a teacher in her 40s. “But from now on, I will pay closer attention and be more aware of where my food is sourced from.”
Hong Kong to ban Japanese seafood from 10 prefectures in the Fukushima plant.
In Genki Sushi, the Genki Sushi restaurant in the Domain shopping center within Yau Tong, one of the chain’s 74 locations located in Hong Kong, stickers informed guests that the salmon consumed was from Norway.
Sushi Express, which has 35 locations across the city, has posted an announcement on its Facebook page that said its restaurants do not employ any of the products from the prefectures of 10.
In Okonomi Japanese Food, which has served seafood for over two decades now, the proprietor stated that she was hit by an influx of customers who ordered sushi on a Wednesday evening.
“The lunch crowd was a bit less crowded than normal however we must be patient and wait to see the real effects of this water waste incident. While we do sell sashimi, most of our products like salmon, for instance, aren’t sourced out of Japan,” she said.
“But diners have that misconception and associate all sashimi dishes with Japan, so we will take a hit, probably for a few months.”
She also said she was planning to display advertisements in the eatery that explain the history of the fresh fish sold.
According to the report released by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on Thursday at noon, the 50 food samples taken from the local zones of fish cultivation as well as wholesale markets have passed radiation tests.
The Centre for Food Safety said that all six samples of fish products, as well as meat and other items it tested as of noon, were acceptable.
Hong Kong is Japan’s second-largest market for exports of fisheries products, while mainland China is the biggest. In 2022, Hong Kong was importing Japanese seafood products valued at around 75.5 billion yen (US$536 million) and accounted for over 20% of Japan’s total exports of marine products, the government’s data revealed.
The prohibition on Japanese seafood extends to frozen, live chilled, dried, and preserved seafood, as well as seaweed-based products and sea salt from Tokyo, Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano, and Saitama.
Authorities haven’t specified the period for which the ban will be in effect.
A look at Hong Kong’s reaction to the Fukushima wastewater discharge plans
Tokyo will release 1.32 million tons, or the equivalent of 500 Olympic swimming pools, from the water over the next 30 years, causing concerns about the security of the food chain in the region.
Lawmaker Chan Hoiyan, who is the chairperson of Food safety as well as the Environmental Hygiene committee in the Legislative Council, urged the city’s administration to look into the requirement of more specific labeling for food items on Japanese imports.
“We don’t know whether the product has been transferred inside Japan and if it has been labelled as ‘from Hokkaido’ to dodge our checks,” she stated on a radio show. “The government could raise its requirements for food labels besides carrying out more checks, to indicate the place of catch or transfer ports.”