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U.S. blocks milk, produce from Japan near nuclear plant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will block imports of milk and fresh produce from areas of Japan near a crippled nuclear power plant, the Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.

All milk and milk products and fresh fruits and vegetables from four Japanese prefectures -- Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma -- will be stopped from entering the United States, the FDA said in a statement.

The agency was responding to fears that contaminated food from Japan could make it to U.S. stores.

Above-safety radiation levels have been discovered in 11 types of vegetables from the Fukushima area in northeast Japan where a six-reactor nuclear plant was battered by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese government said.

Radiation also has also been found in milk, tap water and the nearby Pacific sea, although Japan and experts insist levels are still far from dangerous to humans.

The agency said previously that exports from Japan were limited due to the infrastructure damage from the disaster.

Japanese officials also have ordered a stop to the sale of raw milk, spinach and kakina from Fukushima prefecture, and of spinach and kakina from Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures.

Foods from Japan make up less than 4 percent of all foods imported into the United States, the FDA said.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

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