Miyagi beef cattle shipments banned

July 29, 2011 at 12:01 AM
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TOKYO, July 28 (UPI) -- The Japanese government has banned shipments of beef cattle from another prefecture in the country's nuclear crisis-hit northeast region.

The decision to widen the ban to cover Miyagi Prefecture was taken after elevated radioactive cesium over the government safety limit was detected in some cattle from that prefecture, Japan Times reported.

Earlier, a similar shipment ban was imposed on nearby Fukushima Prefecture, site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami catastrophe. Workers with the utility operating the plant have been battling since then to bring the plant's damaged reactors to what is called a cold shutdown to check the radiation emissions.

After Fukushima and Miyagi, the government may place a similar ban on beef cattle also from Iwate Prefecture, where five cattle were found contaminated with elevated cesium levels, Japan Times reported. The issue has caused widespread concern across the country.

The cesium is believed to have come from straw contaminated by the fallout from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

"We feel regret for those in the stock-breeding industry but we will firmly continue to collect information and examine the situation from the viewpoint of safety," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. "And naturally, we will take measures if necessary."

Farmers responsible for shipping the affected cattle, and others who feed their cattle contaminated straw, would be required to conduct tests on all of their slaughtered beef, the report said. Edano was quoted as saying the government would try to provide "appropriate compensation" to those farmers.

The Financial Times reported with the rising public concern, Aeon, Japan's largest supermarket chain, has already begun conducting its own independent tests for its customers.

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