AUS | Japanese beef contamination widens

Posted on July 15, 2011

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AUSTRALASIA | SYDNEY MORNING HERALD | 15 July 2011

Sunflowers are seen in the tsunami hit field in in Natori.Sunflowers are being planted as part of a soil-decontamination campaign. Photo: AFP

MORE beef from cattle in Japan that ate straw tainted by radiation has found its way into the food supply, deepening concern about the safety of meat as the country struggles to contain the spread of the contamination.

Cattle at the farm in Asakawa, about 60 kilometres from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear station, were fed with rice straw containing 97,000 becquerels of caesium per kilogram, compared with the government standard of 300 becquerels, said Hidenori Ohtani at the livestock division of the Fukushima prefectural government.

The farm shipped 42 cattle in the past three months to slaughterhouses in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Miyagi prefectures, which were processed into meat and sold to distributors, he said.

The discovery comes a week after the Tokyo metropolitan government said it 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 might restrict beef shipments from all of Fukushima prefecture after the finding, Kyodo News has reported.

”They should consider suspending shipments of products made within 80 kilometres 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, Mr Sato said yesterday.

Tests showed beef from the Asakawa farm contained 650 becquerels of caesium a kilogram, exceeding the official standard of 500 becquerels, said Kazuyuki Hashimoto at the food-monitoring division of the Tokyo government office.

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