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Of the 700,000 tons of rice imported in fiscal 2000, 0.08 percent was dumped or sent back due to decay or mold, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Tuesday.

The action was taken because the imports violated health and safety laws, ministry officials said.

The 579 tons of rejected rice was about 73 tons less than the amount rejected during the preceding fiscal year, the officials said.

Most rice shipments rejected in fiscal 2000 were contaminated by seawater during transit, the officials said.

Aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mold found in shipments during fiscal 1998, was not detected in any of the rice imported during fiscal 2000, they added.

Rice was imported from nine countries in fiscal 2000, including about 420,000 tons from the United States, 150,000 tons from Thailand and 110,000 tons from Australia. Of the rice found to be unfit for consumption, the largest volume — about 273 tons — came from Australia, followed by 218 tons from Uruguay, the ministry said.

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