August 16, 2022

Japanese Retailer Sold Beef Contaminated by Radiation

TOKYO — Aeon, the second-biggest retailer in Japan, said Sunday that it had sold beef from cattle that ate nuclear-contaminated feed, the latest in a series of health scares from radiation leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Cases of contaminated vegetables, tea, milk, seafood and water have already stoked anxiety in Japan after the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986, despite assurances from officials that the levels are not dangerous.

Aeon said it had sold the contaminated beef at a store in Tokyo and at more than a dozen stores in the surrounding area. Radiation continues to spill from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant more than four months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Aeon, which trails Seven I Holdings in the retail sector, said in a statement that cattle from Fukushima Prefecture were given animal feed originating from rice straw that exceeded the government’s limits for radioactive cesium.

Aeon said it had sold 319 kilograms, or 703 pounds, of the beef from April 27 to June 20 at one shop in Tokyo and at other shops in Kanagawa and Chiba. Aeon said it had also sold the beef at outlets in Shizuoka and Ishikawa, in central Japan.

The retailer said it would start to check beef shipments from all areas that could potentially have contaminated feed.

The government was now likely to ban shipments of beef from around Fukushima, Goshi Hosono, a cabinet minister, said Sunday. It was not immediately clear what had delayed such an action, which was unlikely to deflect criticism that the government has been slow in its response to the crisis.

“The most likely outcome is that we will ban beef shipments,” Mr. Hosono, the cabinet minister responsible for coordinating the nuclear cleanup, said on a television program. “We are discussing the matter along these lines. We have to ensure food safety.”

Cesium at levels three to six times higher than safety standards was found last week in beef shipped to Tokyo from a farmer in the city of Minamisoma, near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is run by Tokyo Electric Power.

Agriculture ministry officials have said that consuming such meat a few times poses no immediate health risks.

Shipments of certain vegetables from areas near the plant have also been halted because of high radiation levels, while cesium was found at levels above safety limits in tiny kounago fish in waters near Fukushima, stoking worries about seafood in a country where sushi and sashimi are eaten widely.

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