Threat to Japanese Food Chain Multiplies as Cesium Contamination Spreads
By Aya Takada
Jul 25, 2011
Radiation fallout from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant poses a growing threat to Japan’s food chain as unsafe levels of cesium found in beef on supermarket shelves were also detected in more vegetables and the ocean.
More than 2,600 cattle have been contaminated, Kyodo News reported July 23, after the Miyagi local government said 1,183 cattle at 58 farms were fed hay containing radioactive cesium before being shipped to meat markets.
Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano has said officials didn’t foresee that farmers might ship contaminated hay to cattle ranchers. That highlights the government’s inability to think ahead and to act, said Mariko Sano, secretary general for Shufuren, a housewives organization in Tokyo.
“The government is so slow to move,” Sano said. “They’ve done little to ensure food safety.”
Aeon Co., Japan’s biggest supermarket chain, said today 4,108 kilograms (9,056 pounds) of beef suspected of being contaminated was inadvertantly put on sale at 174 stores across Japan. Supermarkets started testing beef after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government found radioactive cesium in slaughtered cattle this month.