Octopus and Marine Snails – Fukushima’s Fare – Is this all that’s safe for sale after Japan’s Nuclear Disaster?

The first seafood caught off Japan’s Fukushima coastline since last year’s nuclear disaster went on sale Monday, but the offerings were limited to octopus and marine snails because of persisting fears about radiation.

Octopus and whelk, a kind of marine snail, were chosen for the initial shipments because testing for radioactive cesium consistently measured no detectable amounts, according to the Fukushima Prefectural (state) fishing cooperative. They were caught Friday and boiled so they last longer while being tested for radiation before they could be sold Monday.

Flounder, sea bass and other fish from Fukushima can’t be sold yet because of contamination. It was unclear when they will be approved for sale as they measure above the limit in radiation set by the government. The government is testing for radioactive iodine as well, but its half-life is shorter than cesium and thus is less worrisome.

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Radioactive Cesium Exceeding New Japan Government Limit Detected in 51 Food Items in Nine Prefectures

Radioactive cesium was detected in 51 food products from nine prefectures in excess of a new government-set limit in the first month since it was introduced April 1, according to data released by the health ministry Tuesday.

The limit was exceeded in 337 cases, or 2.4 percent of 13,867 food samples examined by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Cesium exceeding the previous allowable limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram was detected in 55 cases, while the new limit of 100 becquerels was exceeded in 282 cases.

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Japan’s radiation information portal site (Japanese only)

Daily food random testing results (Japanese only)

Restaurants face ban on serving raw beef liver after E. coli discovery

A health ministry panel on Friday proposed banning all raw beef liver served at restaurants, after it was discovered that it contains the O-157 strain of E. coli bacteria.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will swiftly refer the matter to the Food Safety Commission under the Cabinet Office.

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Meiji ignored tipoffs on cesium in baby formula

Meiji Co. was tipped off on three separate occasions in mid-November that its milk formula may be contaminated with radioactive cesium, but ignored the information for about two weeks, sources said.

The major food maker only looked into the matter after it was approached by Kyodo News and a citizens’ group earlier this month, the sources said.

Meiji said it had initially concluded that "further investigation was unnecessary" because one of the tipoffs was made by an anonymous caller and the other two, from concerned consumers, cited Internet information the company was unable to confirm.

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Fukushima to ban rice grown in Onami

The government on Thursday banned shipments of rice harvested in the Onami district in the city of Fukushima after one farm’s product registered levels of radioactive cesium above the provisional limit.

It is the first ban on rice shipments since the devastating nuclear crisis was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the government instructed Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato to impose the ban, while also requesting the prefecture to conduct further tests on rice harvested in Onami.

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Japan Buys 800,000 Tons of Corn From Ukraineas Cheaper U.S. Alternative – Bloomberg

Japan, the world’s largest corn importer, bought about 800,000 metric tons of the grain from Ukraine as a cheaper alternative to U.S. supply after the European nation removed a tax on exports last month.The purchase, made by five Japanese trading companies, was for shipments in November to March at about $20 a ton cheaper than U.S. corn, Nobuyuki Chino, president of Continental Rice Corp. in Tokyo, said in an interview today.

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Japan’s radioactive farm levels

New research has found that radioactive material in parts of north-eastern Japan exceeds levels considered safe for farming.

The findings provide the first comprehensive estimates of contamination across Japan following the nuclear accident in 2011.

Food production is likely to be affected, the researchers suggest.

The results are reported in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.

Read the rest of the story: BBC News – Japan farm radioactive levels probed.

Japan’s beef import policy to change

The Japanese government is considering lifting restrictions on U.S. beef imports, sources told The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

Import restrictions currently ban U.S. beef from cattle 20 months or older. The change, likely to be announced at a November Japan-United States summit, would change that restriction to cattle under 30 months of age, which includes 95 percent of all U.S. beef products, the newspaper said.

The restrictions, which began in 2003 after an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy — commonly called mad-cow disease…

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Rice Farmers in Japan Set Tougher Radiation Limits for Crops

Rice farmers near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will impose radiation safety limits that will only clear grains with levels so low as to be virtually undetectable after government-set standards were viewed as too lenient, curbing sales.

Farmers now completing the harvest in areas affected by fallout from the nuclear station are struggling to find buyers amid doubts about cesium limits, which are less stringent than in livestock feed. No samples have been found exceeding the official limits.

A self-imposed near-zero limit on radiation in rice may help spur sales from Fukushima, which was the forth-largest producer in Japan last year, representing about 5 percent of the total harvest. The prefectural office of Zen-Noh, Japan’s biggest farmers group, plans to only ship cesium-free rice to address safety concerns, as does the National Confederation of Farmers Movements, which includes about 30,000 producers nationwide.

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Japan finds radiation in rice, more tests planned

A sample of unharvested rice contained 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, they said. Radioactive cesium was spewed from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant after it was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.Under Japanese regulations, rice with up to 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram is considered safe for consumption.Officials have tested rice from more than 400 spots in Fukushima prefecture. The highest level of cesium previously found was 136 becquerels per kilogram, prefectural official Kazuhiko Kanno said.

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