JAPAN | Cesium beef scattered across nation / Consumers may have eaten radioactive Fukushima Pref. meat in 8 prefectures

Posted on July 13, 2011

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JAPAN | YOMIURI | 13 July 2011

The meat of cows recently found tainted with radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional legal limit is now known to have been marketed in Tokyo and at least 11 other prefectures, with Akita, Chiba and Hyogo prefectures newly added to the list, according to the Tokyo metropolitan government and other authorities.

It is suspected that 373.15 kilograms of the meat, which was shipped by a farm in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, may have already been sold to and eaten by consumers in eight of the 12 prefectures, including Tokyo and Hokkaido, the metropolitan government said.

According to an announcement by the Akita prefectural government Tuesday, 36.5 kilograms of the meat was shipped to a meat retailer in Yokote in the prefecture.

The prefectural government examined the meat in response to information provided by the metropolitan government and learned that the meat was stored in a refrigerator at the retailer.

The retailer returned the meat to its supplier in Tokyo at the prefectural government’s instruction.

Meanwhile, the municipal Fujisawa Health Center in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, said a meat retailer in that city had bought 304.5 kilograms of the meat–equivalent to the meat of one whole cow.

Samples of that meat were found to contain radioactive cesium at a level of 3,240 becquerels per kilogram, or about 6.5 times the provisional legal limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram set by the central government.

The Fujisawa retailer sent 59.6 kilograms of the meat to be marketed in Chiba Prefecture, but it has not been sold to consumers and will be returned to Fujisawa, according to the center.

However, the health center also said that 137.3 kilograms of the meat had already been sold to consumers and restaurants.

The Tokyo metropolitan government investigated the meat of six cows that were shipped by the same farm and sent to places including a meat processor in Tokyo in May and June.

It found 1,438.6 kilograms of meat from the six cows had been marketed in Tokyo and the 11 other prefectures.

It is possible some of the meat has already been eaten in Tokyo as well as Hokkaido, Osaka, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Aichi, Tokushima and Kochi prefectures.

According to the metropolitan government’s announcement Wednesday, it has learned that 76 kilograms of meat from one of the six cows, which was processed at a meat processor in Tokyo on June 30, was sold to a supplier in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, by a supplier in Osaka Prefecture. All that meat has already been returned to the Osaka Prefecture supplier and did not reach consumers.

To prevent similar mishaps, the Fukushima prefectural government plans to process in the prefecture all cows shipped from about 260 farms in designated evacuation areas related to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and then measure the meat’s radiation levels.

About 33,000 cows are shipped from the prefecture each year, mostly alive, and are processed mainly in Tokyo.

Although the prefectural government considered asking the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and others to have meat examined for radiation after its shipment from the prefecture, the prefecture’s livestock industry department insists that the prefecture itself must make efforts to ship safe meat.

The prefectural meat processing center in Koriyama can process only 40 cows a day.

The Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center, which also is in Koriyama and is to examine cows before shipment, can test only 80 cows a day. Therefore, not all cows may be examined in the prefecture before shipment.

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Cesium beef also sold in Kochi

Meanwhile, the Kochi prefectural government announced Tuesday that a maximum of 2,710 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in beef that was sold in Kochi and kept in a refrigerator by a consumer.

This is about 5.4 times the provisional legal limit. The meat is part of 8.8 kilograms of beef that was shipped to a supermarket in Kochi by a supplier in Matsuyama, divided into small packages in early June and then sold to consumers.

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