Japan to burn its radiation-tainted beef

Japan announced a plan Tuesday under which beef tainted with radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster will be bought up and burnt, in a move aimed at restoring consumer confidence.

Almost 3,000 cattle whose meat is feared to be contaminated with radioactive caesium have been shipped nationwide after being fed straw exposed to fallout during the more than four month old nuclear crisis.

Agriculture minister Michihiko Kano said the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), would ultimately have to pick up the bill, which media reports said may come to two billion yen ($25 million).

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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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Radioactive cesium found in straw fed to beef cattle

Beef cattle at a farm in Asakawamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, have been fed with straw tainted with high levels of radioactive cesium, and 42 cows from that farm have been shipped to Tokyo and three other prefectures, according to the Fukushima prefectural government. The prefectural and central governments, which have begun investigating the marketing route, asked all cattle farms in Fukushima Prefecture to refrain from shipping or moving any cows until Monday, when the on-the-spot inspections will be completed. Earlier this week, beef cows shipped by a farm in Minami-Soma in the prefecture were found tainted with radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional regulatory limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.