December 8, 2011
Following the discovery of radiation levels, more than 400,000 cans of Meiji Step formula are being recalled from supermarket shelves across the country.
The contamination is believed to be connected to the nuclear crisis at Fukushima power plant, which was critically damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Radiation levels discovered in the baby milk ranged from 22 to 31 becquerels per kilogramme, which although are well within the 200-becquerel legal limit are likely to cause concern among parents.
There is an increasing sense of unease in relation to food safety among Japanese consumers, particularly those with babies and small children who are highly vulnerable to the negative effects of radiation exposure.
Rice, beef, dairy products and green tea are among a raft of food items which have been found to contain radioactive substances over the past nine months, despite government reassurances of rigorous monitoring.
The baby formula at the centre of the latest food scare was produced at a factory in Saitama prefecture, which is around 124 miles from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
Meiji, a key producer of milk, confectionary and pharmaceuticals in Japan, is investigating the possibility that cesium entered the formula during the drying process, rather than being present in raw materials.
Shares in the company, which sells the baby formula only in Japan, dropped nearly 10% in early trading in Tokyo following the recall announcement.