Japan bans Fukushima cattle shipments amid contamination fears

09:16, July 20, 2011      

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Japanese government on Tuesday suspended all cattle shipments from Fukushima prefecture due to fears of radiation-tainted beef in the country's meat distribution chain.

The suspension came after the discovery that about 650 cows, which were suspected of being contaminated with radioactive cesium have been shipped to at least 38 of Japan's 47 prefectures.

The shipments of beef cattle from all parts of the northeastern prefecture were suspended until requirements for lifting the ban are met.

The radioactive cesium was believed to have originated from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant which has been leaking radioactive substances following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Also on Tuesday, Farm Minister Michihiko Kano said the government will expand the scope of an emergency survey on the use of rice straw to cover all cattle farmers nationwide, after elevated levels of radioactive cesium were found in straw beyond Fukushima and 10 other prefectures currently under review, according to Kyodo News report.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, the top government spokesman, said the farmers affected by the suspension will be compensated and the government will also cover their losses resulting from the fall in beef prices.

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