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BEIJING / SHANGHAI — Supermarkets and Japanese restaurants in China have been distancing themselves from products imported from the nation since the earthquake-devastated country announced on Saturday that radiation levels found in spinach and milk produced near the crippled nuclear plant exceeded safe levels.
An employee at an outlet of the Japan-invested department store and supermarket Ito Yokado in Beijing's Chaoyang district said spinach on the shelves was from local suppliers and made-in-Japan milk products had never been supplied to the Chinese market.
While a made-in-Japan label had, in the past, been a declaration of quality among fashionable young consumers, many retailers have been busy removing signs proclaiming items to have been imported from Japan.
The manager of a Japanese restaurant in Beijing's Chaoyang district said he had reassured diners that the restaurant used salmon imported from Norway and did not import food or ingredients from Japan.
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And an employee from a Japanese restaurant in Guangzhou's Tianhe district, said the sale of sushi, salmon and other Japanese dishes had not been affected during the past week because all food and ingredients were local.
"We use Japanese cooking skills and hire Japanese chefs but we will use food products from China or those imported from other countries if Japanese food products are found tainted by nuclear radiation," she said.
The fact that Chinese ingredients were being used by many restaurants angered some consumers who felt they had been cheated in the past.
Jin Chen, a 26-year-old white-collar worker in Shanghai, said she was disappointed when she learned that seafood served at her favorite Japanese restaurant in Shanghai actually came from Dalian, Liaoning province or Norway.
"All the advertising in the past about serving authentic Japanese food was a lie," she said. "Now, I'm worried about food safety and also I feel cheated."
Tightened checks at borders have also been affecting some imports from Japan.