Tokyo, Japan — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 15 July 2011 – More beef from cattle in Japan that ate straw tainted by radiation has found its way into the food supply, deepening Japanese concern about the safety of meat as the country struggles to contain the spread of contamination.
Reuters quotes Hidenori Ohtani at the livestock division of the Fukushima prefectural government as saying that cattle at the farm in Asakawa, about 60km from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station, were fed with rice straw containing 97,000 becquerels of cesium per kg, compared with the government standard of 300 becquerels, The farm had shipped 42 cattle in the past three months to slaughterhouses in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Miyagi prefectures, which had been processed into meat and sold to distributors, he added.
The discovery comes a week after the Tokyo metropolitan government said it had detected beef tainted by radiation for the first time, underlining the severity of contamination caused by the stricken station in Fukushima, site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Japan’s government may restrict beef shipments from all of the Fukushima prefecture after this discovery, Kyodo News reported today, without citing anyone.
“They should consider suspending shipments of products made within 80km of the nuclear station,” said Junichi Sato, an executive director at Greenpeace in Japan. “More farms may have used tainted straw and shipped cattle, threatening food supplies, he said in an interview.
The ministry was unaware of the risk to cattle from tainted straw produced by local rice growers, Agriculture minister Michihiko Kano told reporters in Tokyo. “It was beyond imagination that rice straw was collected from the field in the spring,” Kano said.
The agriculture ministry is discussing with the health ministry and the Fukushima government if it is feasible to test all cattle in the prefecture for radiation to prevent the shipment of tainted meat to the market, said Yasuo Sasaki, senior press counselor for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Fukushima prefecture is Japan’s 10th largest beef grower and fourth biggest rice grower.