A further 84 cows shipped from five beef cattle farms in Fukushima Prefecture were fed with hay containing high levels of radioactive cesium, the prefectural government said Saturday.
|Hay buffet: Cattle are fed Saturday at a farm in the town of Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, after checks confirmed the hay was not contaminated with radioactive cesium. KYODO PHOTO|
The cows were shipped between March 28 and July 13 to slaughterhouses in five prefectures — Miyagi, Fukushima, Yamagata, Saitama and Tokyo — and the Fukushima Prefectural Government has asked municipalities to check whether that meat has been distributed.
Fifty-three of the cows were sent to Tokyo, 19 to Fukushima Prefecture, eight to Kawaguchi in Saitama Prefecture, two to Yamagata Prefecture and two to Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture.
The latest findings surfaced during a survey of farms the prefecture started July 11, after a farm in Minamisoma was found to have fed cows with hay containing radioactive cesium far above the government’s limit of 500 becquerels per kg.
According to the prefectural government, the 84 cows were raised at five farms in the cities of Koriyama, Kitakata and Soma, and were fed with hay that farmers cut from rice paddies after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Hay remaining at a Koriyama farm was found to be contaminated with a level of cesium measuring 500,000 becquerels per kg.
The farmers involved told Fukushima authorities that they were unaware of the central government’s instruction issued March 19 that farm animals should not eat feed kept outdoors during the nuclear crisis.
An official from the Fukushima Prefectural Government’s farm department said at a news conference that the local municipality failed to properly convey the instructions to farmers. “We will reflect on it,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the survey also found that meat from 42 cows shipped from a farm in Asakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, where hay fed to cows was also found to be contaminated with high levels of radioactive cesium, has been distributed to at least 30 prefectures.
Of the 30, the meat was sold to consumers and likely eaten in 13 prefectures, including Akita, Ibaraki, Nagano, Aichi and Kagawa.
Officials of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said tests conducted by local governments on meat from six of the 42 cows that did not reach the market revealed levels of radioactive cesium below the maximum limit in four of the cows.
However, meat from the other two cows, which had reached wholesalers in Tokyo and Yamagata Prefecture, contained 650 and 694 becquerels per kg, the officials said.