Sunday, August 14, 2011

Issue of radiation-tainted food in Japan escalates - 14th Aug 2011

Mushrooms joined the threats to Japan’s food chain from radiation spewed by Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, as the country expands efforts to limit the effects of the disaster.

Japan is under pressure to enhance food inspections as it has no centralized system for detecting radiation contamination. About two-thirds of Japan’s prefectures now plan to check rice crops, the Mainichi newspaper said today, citing a survey. Half of Japan’s rice is grown within range of emissions from the crippled nuclear plant, and farmers are awaiting the results of tests before harvesting begins this month.

“By strengthening inspection on rice, we want to make sure only safe produce are in the market,” Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano said at a press conference on Aug. 12.

Nameko mushrooms grown in the open air in Soma, a city about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, were found to contain nine times the legal limit of cesium, the local government said Aug. 12. Japan’s farm ministry asked growers in Fukushima prefecture to refrain from harvesting mushrooms off raw wood left outside, public broadcaster NHK said yesterday.

Authorities in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures are conducting spot checks on a range of products in cooperation with local farmers. Radiation exceeding safety levels has been found in produce, tea, milk, fish and beef sourced as far as 360 kilometers from the nuclear plant. Read More