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Philadelphia Importer Laying Off Japanese Fish, Temporarily

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There is high anxiety in Japan over the safety of their water and food supplies, amid the prolonged nuclear power plant crisis.

But should we in the United States be concerned over Japanese exports destined for our dinner table?

Less than four percent of our food imports come from Japan, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expects no health risk from radiation in what we eat -- including seafood.

"We've found absolutely nothing that would indicate that this product is unsafe," agrees Joe Lasprogata, the director of purchasing at Samuels & Son Seafood Co. in South Philadelphia, one of the region's biggest distributors.

Still, his company has decided to play it safe.  A normal week there sees about 2,000 pounds of Japanese hamachi (yellowtail), madai (snapper), and the like.  But their imports from Japan have stopped, for now.

"...until the Japanese government and the FDA get all their ducks in a row and we're completely sure we're all on the same page,"  Lasprogata says.

There are alternative products available in the interim, he adds, from places like Australia, New Zealand -- and frozen stocks.

Lasprogata says that your favorite local sushi bar -- like the country that inspires it -- needs your support right now.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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