August 19, 2011
Japan to lift beef shipment prohibition
The beef shipment ban from Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, following the detection of radioactive cesium-contaminated beef may be removed on Friday (Aug 19), according to government sources on Thursday (Aug 18).
The move follows a compilation by the prefectures of cattle inspection programmes and measures to manage radioactive rice straw, which was fed to cattle in the region despite a government's notice urging farms not to use it as livestock feed.
After the ban is lifted, farms will be able to restart their beef shipments once the prefectural governments ascertain that radioactive cesium contained in the beef from their cattle measures below 500 becquerels per kilogramme, a provisional safety limit set by the government, according to the sources.
The prefectural governments have put forward to the farm and health ministry's plans to remove contaminated straw from barns and take other measures to keep cattle from eating the straw, while having local officials check the straw's condition roughly every three months.
A total of nearly 3,000 beef cattle were shipped from farms in the two prefectures that had fed their cattle rice straw prepared after the massive release of radioactive substances from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Excessive levels of radioactive cesium were subsequently found in the beef of some of the cattle.
On July 19, the government instructed the Fukushima government to ban beef shipments from the prefecture and instructed the Miyagi government on July 28 to do the same.
The government plans to lift a ban on beef shipments from Iwate and Tochigi prefectures once similar measures are compiled by them, the sources said.
The beef from cattle that had been fed rice straw containing elevated levels of radioactive cesium ended up being distributed across the country, sowing fears among consumers about the safety of beef in the market.