Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Return to Imported Foods Inspection Services Home Page


Office of Imported Food Safety,

Inspection and Safety Division,

Department of Food Safety,

Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

(Extension: 2474, 2497, 2498)

Inspection Results of Imported Foods Monitoring and Guidance Plan for FY 2008
Interim Report

December 2008

Department of Food Safety
Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Inspection Results of Imported Foods Monitoring and Guidance Plan for FY 2008 (An Interim report)

1. Introduction

In order to monitor and provide instructions to ensure the safety of foods, etc., imported into Japan (hereafter referred to as “imported foods, etc.”), the government established the imported food monitoring and instruction program in 2008 (hereinafter, “the program”). The program is based on the guidelines for monitoring and providing instructions in food sanitation (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Notification No. 301, 2003) as per the regulations of Article 23, Paragraph 1 of the Food Sanitation Law (Law No. 233, 1947; hereinafter, “the Law”); public comments were collected and risk communication was conducted. The program was published in the Official Gazette as an official report according to the regulations of Paragraph 3 of the same article, and the monitoring and instruction for imported foods, etc., is being conducted based upon the Program.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will publish an outline of the implementation status of the monitoring and instruction for imported foods, etc., conducted in accordance with the program, by June of the next year and will also publish the mid-year status around the middle of the fiscal year. An interim report on the results of the inspections conducted based on the program from April to September, 2008, which were summarized recently, will be published.


Website on “Safety of Imported Food”


Office of Import Food Safety, Inspection and Safety Division, Department of Food Safety

2. Overview of the Imported Foods Monitoring and Guidance Plan for FY 2008

(1) What is the Imported Foods Monitoring and Guidance Plan?

The Imported Foods Monitoring and Guidance Plan is a plan for the implementation of monitoring and guidance conducted by the national government with respect to imported foods (Article 23, paragraph 1 of the Law).


To ensure greater safety of imported foods by promoting the national government to conduct inspections at the time of importation and to conduct monitoring of and guidance for importers in an intensive, effective and efficient manner.

(2) Principles for Monitoring and Guidance on Imported Foods

Based on Article 4 of the Food and Safety Basic Law (Law No.48 of 2003) (that is, food safety shall be ensured by taking appropriate measures at each stage of the domestic and overseas food supply process), the Plan is prepared in order that three stages of sanitation measures are taken, namely, in the exporting country, at the time of importation, and at the time of domestic distribution.

(3) Priority Items for Monitoring and Guidance
(4) Promotion of Sanitation Measures in Exporting Countries
(5) Guidance for Importers on Voluntary Sanitation Control

*1: Systematic inspections based on statistical concepts that take into account the volume of imports and violation rates, etc., for different food types.

*2: With regard to items having a high probability of being in violation of the Law, inspections are ordered by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare at each and every importation. Items are not permitted to be imported or distributed unless they pass that inspection.

*3: Regulations by which the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare can prevent the sale or import of specified foods, without the need for inspections, in cases where it is deemed necessary from the perspective of preventing harm to public health.

*4: Development of pesticide residue testing methods for processed foods that will contribute to verifying raw material management.

3. Inspection results of the imported food monitoring and instruction program in 2008 (interim report)

Table 1 Notification, Inspection and Violation Statuses (April-September 2008: Tentative Report)
No. of Notifications Amount of import No. of inspections *1 Percentage *2 No. of violations Percentage *2
Cases887,703 1,000 tons12,046 Cases91,955 %10.4 Cases501 %0.06
(Records of the previous FY)
12,226 100,948 11,0 619 0.07

*1 Values obtained after excluding overlapping cases from the total values of monitoring inspection, inspection order, instructive inspection, etc.

*2 Percentage of the number of inspections to the number of notifications

Table 2 Major Violation Cases (April-September 2008: Tentative Report)
Violated article Number of violations Component percentage Major violations
Article 6
(Distribution of prohibited foods and additives)
Cases98 %17.4 Aflatoxin-contaminated corn, pearl-barley, peanut, almond, sesame, etc.; cyanide-contaminated cassava; Listeria monocytogenes-contaminated meat products; detection of diarrhetic/paralytic shellfish toxin; and decay, deterioration and fungus formation due to accidents during rice transport
Article 9
(Limitation on distribution, etc. of diseased meat, etc)
5 0.9 No hygiene certificate attached
Article 10
(Limitation on distribution, etc. of additives, etc)
17 3.0 Processed foods that contain additives such as cyclamate, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), patent blue V, azorubin, or any other additives not designated for use as additives
Article 11
(Standards and specifications for foods or additives)
431 76.7 Violation of specifications for vegetable and dried vegetable (violation of standards for residual pesticides); violation of specifications for seafood and its processed products (inclusion of antibacterial substances, and violation of standards for residual pesticides); violation of specifications for frozen foods (viable cell count, Escherichia coli and coliform bacilli); violation of standards for usage of additives (sorbic acid, benzoic acid, etc); excessive amount of residual additives(sulfur dioxide, etc.)
Article 18
(Standards and specifications for instruments and containers/packages)
10 1.8 Violation of specifications/standards for instruments and containers/packages; violation of specifications for each raw material
Article 62
(Mutatis mutandis application to toys, etc.)
1 0.2 Violation of specifications for toys or their raw materials
Total 562 (total number)
501 (number of notifies violations)
Table 3 Implementation Status of Monitoring Inspection (April-September 2008: Tentative Report)
Food type Category of inspection items Number of programs planned in the FY* Number of programs implemented Number of violations
Livestock foods
Beef, pork, chicken, horse meat, poultry meat, and other meats
Antibacterial substances 2,200 1,094 1
Residual agricultural chemicals 1,700 978 0
Standards for constituents 650 330 0
Processed livestock foods
Natural cheeses, processed meat products, ice cream, frozen products (meat products), and other products
Antibacterial substances 1,500 942 5
Residual agricultural chemicals 550 287 0
Additives 1,100 913 0
Standards for constituents 1,800 956 4
Seafood products
Bivalves, fish, shellfish (shrimps, prawns, crabs) and other products
Antibacterial substances 3,500 1,577 2
Residual agricultural chemicals 850 998 0
Additives 250 170 0
Standards for constituents 900 553 0
Processed seafood
Processed fish products (fillet, dried or minced fish, etc.), processed fish roe products, and other products
Antibacterial substances 3,300 2,152 0
Residual agricultural chemicals 1,750 1,518 0
Additives 1,800 1,596 1
Standards for constituents 3,900 2,819 19
Agricultural foods
Vegetables, fruit, wheat, barley, corn, beans, peanuts, nuts, seeds, and other products
Antibacterial substances 750 834 0
Residual agricultural chemicals 18,350 8,761 48
Additives 600 337 0
Standards for constituents 1,250 591 0
Mycotoxins 2,200 1,295 2
GMOs 1,250 520 0
Processed agricultural foods
Frozen products processed vegetables), processed vegetable products, processed fruit products, spices, instant noodles, and other products
Residual agricultural chemicals 6,500 2,977 4
Additives 4,200 2,263 1
Standards for constituents 2,100 1,235 10
Mycotoxins 2,250 911 0
GMOs 200 31 0
Exposure to radiation 300 208 1
Other foods
Health foods, soups, flavorings, seasonings, sweets, edible oils, fat, frozen products, and other products
Antibacterial substances 300 24 0
Residual agricultural chemicals 250 252 0
Additives 3,100 1,266 3
Standards for constituents 650 347 1
Mycotoxins 600 295 0
Drinks and beverages
Mineral water, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and other products
Residual agricultural chemicals 300 99 0
Additives 900 651 0
Standards for constituents 900 434 1
Mycotoxins 300 81 0
Additives, equipment, containers and packages
Standards for constituents 1,800 347 0
Foods subject to reinforced monitoring inspection Confirmation of removal of SRM, differentiation of fish species using DNA-based techniques, antibacterial substances, genetically modified foods, exposure to radiation, food additives 5,000 2,409 0
Total (number) 79,800 43,051
Rate of programs implemented to planned= ~54%

* The approximate number of programs counted by each test item such as antibiotics and pesticides in food products is shown.

Table 4 Items Subject to Reinforcement of Monitoring Inspection*1 (April-September 2008 *2)
Countries/Regions Subject foods Test items
China Eels Endosulfan
Kale, Chinese chives Chlorpyrifos
Buckwheat noodle Aflatoxin
Large peanuts Daminozide
Matsutake mushrooms, sesame seeds Acetochlor
Spinach Clothianidin
Green peppers Difenoconazole
Komatsuna (Brassica rapa var. peruviridis) Pyrimethanil
Japanese leeks Pyrimethanil
Swiss chard Atrazine
Royal jelly Nitrofurans
Thailand Saisin (Asarum sieboldii ), Kan-Jong EPN
Soft-shelled turtles Enrofloxacin, Furaltadone
coconut trunk Paclobutrazol
U.S. Potatoes Dazomet
Methyl isothiocyanate
Apple juice Patulin
Myanmar Galvanso bean Cypermethrin
Coffee beans DDT
Yemen Coffee beans Chlordane, γ-BHC, Heptachlor
Australia Barley Amitraz,
Philippines Mangoes Chlorpyrifos, Cypermethrin
France Blackcurrant Bupirimate, Flusilazole
Venezuela Cacao beans, sesame seeds Chlorpyrifos
South Korea Green chili Flusilazole
Bangladesh Chili peppers Triazophos
Laos Kale Fipironil
Sudan Sesame seeds Diazinon
Gambia Sesame seeds γ-BHC
Guatemala Sesame seeds Methamidophos
All exporters (excluding Nigeria) Sesame seeds Aflatoxin
All exporters
(excluding India)
Sickle senna seeds Aflatoxin
All exporters
(excluding U.S. and Italy)
Processed almond products Aflatoxin

*1 These items are subjected to inspection reinforcement after a violation is detected; this is usually done for 30% of the total number of notifications.

*2 Excludes items included in Table 5.

Table 5 Items Shifted to Inspection Order (April-September, 2008)
Countries/Regions Subject foods Test items
China Chicken Furaltadone
Carrots Acephate
Milk, dairy products, and processed foods containing those as an ingredient Melamine
Ethiopia Coffee beans γ-BHC
Taiwan Carrots Acephate
Philippines Okra Fluazifop
Brazil Wheat Methamidofos
Thailand Asparagus EPN
India Sickle senna seeds Aflatoxin
Nigeria Sesame seeds Aflatoxin
Italy Processed almond products Aflatoxin
Vietnam Seafood products (Limited to those consumed unheated or those not confirmed to have received adequate heat treatment [either equaling or surpassing 70 degrees Celsius for one minute] in Japan before selling)* Shigella
Canada Lobster (Limited to edible organs, such as tomalley and digestive organs inside the shell, of lobsters from Atlantic coastal waters) Paralytic shellfish poison
US Foods containing soft and semi-soft type natural cheese as a major ingredient (Limited to those consumed unheated)* Listeria monocytogenes

*Only those produced by manufacturers that have committed a violation.

Table 6 Items Subject to Inspection Order and Inspection Results (April-September 2008: Tentative Report)
Countries/ Regions Main subject foods Main test items Number of tests Number of violations
All exporters
(16 items)
Peanuts, chili peppers, nuts, pearl barley, figs, etc. Aflatoxin 4,305 29
Salted salmon roe Root nitrite, etc. 216 2
Cyanide-containing beans, cassava Cyanide 255 5
(46 items)
Chicken, shrimps, eels, mackerel, honey, clam, etc. Nitrofurans,
tetracylines antibiotics,
malachite green,
enrofloxacin, etc
23,438 26
Japanese leeks, Shiitake mushrooms, carrots, green peppers, etc. Acetochlor, fenpropathrin, methamidophos, pyrimethanil, etc. 13,361 14
Clams Paralytic shellfish toxin, diarrhetic shellfish toxin 2,435 7
Processed eel products, etc. Bacteria count, coliform bacteria 642 0
All processed products Cyclamate 543 0
(25 items)
Cultured shrimps Oxolinic acid 1,198 0
Okra, green asparagus, mangoes, bananas, etc. EPN,
chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, etc
1,387 2
Basil seeds Aflatoxin 2 0
(20 items)
Constricted tagelus Endosulfan 85 10
Paprikas, red peppers, perilla, etc. Ethoprophos, chlorpyrifos, tebuconazole,
395 4
Clams, etc. Paralytic shellfish toxin, diarrhetic shellfish toxin 472 1
Ark shells to be eaten raw Vibrio parahaemolyticus 1 0
(16 items)
Eels, royal jelly, etc. Chloramphenicol, nitrofurans etc. 2,949 0
Oolong tea, mangoes, carrots, etc. Bromopropylate, methamidophos, cypermethrin, etc. 416 14
All processed products Cyclamate 12 0
(12 items)
Corn, parsley, etc. Pirimiphos-methyl, chlorpyrifos, etc. 167 0
Corn, processed almond products Aflatoxin 1,349 21
(8 items)
Shrimps, cuttlefish, etc. Chloramphenicol, nitrofurans etc. 14,184 20
Spinach Indoxacarb 73 0
Sesame seeds, etc Aflatoxin 21 0
Seafood products Shigella 6 0
All processed products Cyclamic acid 51 0
Others (30 countries, 58 items) 13,837 70*
Total 81,800 225

* Breakdown: Coffee beans produced in Ethiopia (γ-BHC, etc.): 32 cases; Cacao beans produced in Ecuador (2,4-D): 15 cases; Okra produced in the Philippines (fluazifop): 6 cases; Cacao beans produced in Ghana (pirimiphos-methyl): 6 cases

Table 7 Records of Pesticide Residue Testing of Processed Foods (April-September 2008: Tentative Report)
Food category Processed livestock foods*1 Processed seafood*2 Processed agricultural foods*3 Other foods*4 Total
Number of tests 291 375 274 233 1,173
Number of violations 0 0 0 0 0

*1 Example: pork cutlet, sausage

*2 Example: deep-fried prawns, broiled eel

*3 Example: bread, french fries

*4 Example: pot stickers, octopus dumplings, beverages

Table 8 Major Cases in Which Monitoring Was Reinforced Based on Information From Overseas (April-September 2008)
Month of reinforcement Country Food and contents Background and monitoring status
April 2008 US Cereal
(possibly contaminated with Salmonella)
Measures were taken to return shipments for each import notification of such products based on information regarding product recall in the US.
April 2008 Italy Natural cheese
(possibly contaminated with Listeria)
Measures were taken to return shipments for each import notification of such products, based on information that Italian-produced cheese was found to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes in Germany. Voluntary inspections measures were taken for cheese produced by the manufacturer in question.
April 2008 Australia Baby food
(possibly containing foreign matters)
Measures were taken to return shipments for each import notification of such products based on information regarding product recall in Australia.
June 2008 US Melon
(possibly contaminated with Salmonella)
Measures were taken to return shipments for each import notification of such a product based on information regarding product recall in the US.
July 2008 New Zealand Beef
(possibly contaminated with endosulfan)
Voluntary inspections measures were taken for each import notification of such a product in response to a report from Korea that beef from New Zealand was found to be tainted with endosulfan.
July 2008 Mexico Hot peppers
(possibly contaminated with Salmonella)
In response to a report that Mexican-grown raw peppers had been linked to a salmonella outbreak in the US, guidelines were issued for each import notification of such products, outlining the use of raw peppers only for heat processed foods.
July 2008 Canada/US Lobster
(possibly contaminated with paralytic shellfish poison)
Voluntary inspections measures were taken for each import notification of lobster from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Canada to the US based on a warning issued in the US to avoid eating lobster tomalley because of potential contamination with paralytic shellfish poison.
August 2008 Chile Pork
(possibly contaminated with dioxins)
Based on a report from Korea that Chilean pork was found to be tainted with dioxins, measures were taken to ban imports of pork produced at the related farms, and to monitor pork produced at other farms for dioxins.
September 2008 China Baby formula
(possibly containing melamine)
Orders were put in place to suspend import notifications of milk and dairy products based on a report from China regarding the occurrence of kidney stones in infants as a result of baby formula. Guidelines were issued for importers of processed foods containing milk and dairy products to check the raw materials for melamine and to conduct voluntary inspections upon import.
(Reference) A description of Key Terms in the Interim Report
Term Description
Sodium nitrite Additive (color-fixing agent) whose maximum residual amounts as root nitrite are defined
Acetochlor Pesticide (anilide herbicide)
Acephate Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
Azorubin Undesignated additive (coloring agent)
Atrazine Pesticide (triazine herbicide)
Aflatoxin Fungal toxin (produced by the fungus Aspergillus, etc.)
Amitraz Pesticide (amizine insecticide)
Benzoic acid Additive (preservative)
Gene modification A technique in which a part of a gene of a bacterium, etc., is segemented, and the constituent elements are recombined and returned to the gene of the original organism or recombined with a gene of another organism
Indoxacarb Pesticide (oxadiazon insecticide)
Ethoprophos Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
Endosulfan Pesticide (organochlorine insecticide)
Enrofloxacin Animal drug (synthetic antimicrobial (new quinolone))
Oxolinic acid Animal drug (synthetic antimicrobial (quinolone))
Clothianidin Pesticide (neonicotinoide insecticide)
Chloramphenicol Animal drug (antibiotic (chloramphenicol))
Chlordane Pesticide (organochlorine insecticide)
Chlorpyrifos Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
Diarrhetic shellfish toxin Shellfish toxin (mainly refers to toxins produced by a harmful plankton accumulated in clams; toxic clams cause diarrhetic poisoning)
Cyclamate Undesignated additive (sweetener)
Cyanide Cyanide-related compounds (e.g., cyanogenic glycoside) found in vegetables such as some varieties of beans
Dinotefuran Pesticide (neonicotinoide insecticide)
Difenoconazole Pesticide (nitrogen-containing bactericide)
Cypermethrin Pesticide (pyrethroid insecticide)
Shigella Pathogenic microorganism (A bacterium that normally lives in the intestines of humans and animals and causes gastroenteritis.)
Sorbic acid Additive (preservative)
Diazinon Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
Dioxins Generic name for a group of three organic compounds containing chlorine: polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (PCDD), polychlorodibenzofuran (PCDF), and coplanar PCB (CoPCB)
Dazomet, Metam and Methyl isothiocyanate Pesticide (soil disinfectant)
Daminozide Pesticide (plant growth regulator)
Term Description
V. parahaemolyticus Pathogenic microorganism (normal flora in seawater, a Vibrio species that mainly contaminates fishes and shellfishes and causes acute gastroenteritis)
Tetracycline antibiotic Antibiotic (mainly refers to oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline,tetracyline)
Tebufenozide Pesticide (benzoyl hydrazide insecticide)
Triazophos Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
Sulfur dioxide Additive (antioxidant)
Nitrofurans Generic name for nitrofuran synthetic antibacterial agent, an animal drug
Paclobutrazol Pesticide (plant growth regulator)
Patulin Fungal toxin (toxin produced by the fungi Penicillium, Aspergillus, etc.)
Patent blue V Undesignated additive (coloring agent)
Pirimiphos-methyl Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
Pyrimethanil Pesticide (anilinopyrimidine fungicide)
Fipronil Pesticide (phenylpyrazol insecticide)
Fenpropathrin Pesticide (pyrethroid insecticide)
Bupirimate Pesticide (pyrimidine fungicide)
Furazolidone Animal drug (nitrofuran synthetic antibacterial agent); generates AOZ when metabolized
Furaltadone Animal drug (nitrofuran synthetic antibacterial agent); generates AMOZ when metabolized
Fluazifop Pesticide (phenoxy acid herbicide)
Flusilazole Pesticide (nitrogen containing bactericide)
Bromopropylate Pesticide (organochlorine insecticide)
Heptachlor Pesticide (organochlorine insecticide)
Polysorbate Undesignated additive (emulsifying agent)
Paralytic shellfish poison Shellfish poison (mainly refers to toxins produced by a harmful plankton accumulated in clams, toxic clams cause paralytic poisoning)
Malachite green Animal drug (triphenylmethane symthetic antibacterial agent)
Methamidophos Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
Melamine A chemical substance used as a primary raw material of melamine resin
Listeria monocytogenes Pathogenic microorganism (a normal flora in the natural environment that contaminates milk products and causes listeriosis)
γ-BHC Pesticide (organochlorine insecticide)
DDT Pesticide (organochlorine insecticide)
EPN Pesticide (organophosphorus insecticide)
SRM Parts of a cow (the head [excluding tongue and cheek meat], the spinal cord, vertebral column, and ileum [up to a 2-m region from its connection with the cecum]) indicating the accumulation of an abnormal prion protein that is a possible causative agent of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
TBHQ Undesignated additive (antioxidant)

Return To Top