The government on Monday widened a ban on beef shipments from Iwate Prefecture, citing elevated radiation levels in the meat of six head of cattle because of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis. The animals were fed rice straw contaminated with cesium, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.
Edano said that he had instructed the Iwate governor to make sure that no beef cattle were shipped to processing centers. He said that all cattle must be tested at farms where rice straw has been contaminated by radioactive cesium.
Iwate becomes the third tsunami-hit prefecture to have cattle shipments banned, following Fukushima and neighboring Miyagi prefectures.
The beef scandal surfaced in July when elevated cesium levels were found in Tokyo in meat from cattle shipped from a farm in Minamisoma, a town just outside the no-go zone around the nuclear plant.
The hay fed to cattle in Japan has been contaminated with up to 690,000 becquerels per kilogram, compared with the government limit of 300 becquerels.
The government has been at pains to stress that standard servings of the contaminated beef pose no immediate health risk, but many consumers have turned away from Japanese beef and prices have dropped.© Japan Today