Japan: Radioactive beef ends up in shops and restaurants. The government assures us that there is no danger, but orders sweeping inspections


Japan: Radioactive beef ends up in shops and restaurants. The government assures us that there is no danger, but orders sweeping inspections

Even though the international media spotlight is almost off, the situation in Japan is far from under control. Eleven head of cattle from Minamisoma, an area about 20 kilometers from the borders of the interdiction area around the Fukushima plant, were found to contain radioactive cesium in concentrations up to six times higher than those permitted, i.e. between 1,530 and 3,200 becquerel per kilo, against 500 considered the maximum limit for not having consequences on human health.

The case of the Miniasoma cows is the first to highlight a contamination in the meat after those found in fish, vegetables and green tea, and although the animals in question are kept in the Tokyo laboratories, five other animals from the same herd have been sold between May 30 and June 30; in total, 1,438 kilos of contaminated meat were distributed to shops and restaurants in 12 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka. The Government, which has reassured consumers by saying that small quantities of meat withisotopes cannot pose a serious health hazard, is now trying to track down all cesium meats and has ordered skin sweeps of all steers coming from the area and destined for the market, while admitting that controls can only be a sample.

However, the history of cesium steers is exemplary: the breeders had in fact stated, in front of the inspectors of the prefecture of Fukushima, that they had not used any contaminated feed to feed the animals, but subsequent tests have highlighted the presence, in those same feed, of cesium in concentrations up to 56 times higher than the permitted limits; it was therefore no surprise to find that the animals had taken isotopes. Rather, this indicates that the situation, again, is likely to be worse than expected.


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