Japan Lifts Ban on Beef Shipments From Nuclear Disaster Area

Despite continuing fears over the safety of food from the area of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan has lifted a ban on beef shipments from there that it had imposed just a month ago, when meat contaminated with radioactive material was found to have reached Japanese supermarkets.

The decision to lift the ban underscores the difficulty faced by the government. Officials are eager to minimize the harm to farmers from the Fukushima area and to bring the local economy back to normal, but they are also trying to repair the damage to their credibility from the handling of the nuclear disaster.

The discovery of radioactive cesium in a number of products last month has greatly undermined public trust in the safety of produce from the region, even if, as the government says, the amount that was found was tiny.

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Contaminated Beef Scare Widens in Japan

A scare over radiation-tainted Japanese beef deepened Thursday with the number of cattle thought to have been contaminated and shipped around the country rising to nearly 1,500, reports said.

As many as 1,485 beef cattle in nine prefectures are thought to have been fed straw contaminated with radioactive caesium before being sent for slaughter and processing country-wide, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The straw contamination is a result of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and has been spread through trading of the tainted feed among farmers in regions beyond Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, where the problem is believed to have originated.

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411 more cows in Japan found to have been fed cesium-tainted straw

Seven more farms in Fukushima Prefecture fed their beef cattle rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium, bringing a total of about 411 more cows suspected of having been exposed to the isotope into the nation’s beef distribution chain, the Fukushima prefectural government said Monday.

Of the cows shipped from the farms, 199 went to Tokyo, 192 to Hyogo Prefecture, nine to Gunma Prefecture, eight within Fukushima Prefecture, two to Tochigi Prefecture and one to Saitama Prefecture.

The straw that remained at the farms was found to contain the isotope measuring as high as 690,000 becquerels per kilogram, far above allowable limits and the highest concentration found so far in the current turmoil.

In trying to alleviate mounting concerns over contaminated beef, the government is set to suspend shipments of beef cattle from Fukushima Prefecture as early as Tuesday, on the basis of a law governing measures in nuclear disasters.

Read the rest of the story: 411 more cows in Fukushima found to have been fed cesium-tainted straw.