Beef shipments from Japan are set to be restricted due to cows being fed contaminated feed, as reported by the Yomiuri newspaper. The cases of contaminated food have shaken the world just as the nuclear crisis despite officials assuring that levels don’t pose a danger to the environment or to people.
Fukishima Prefecture started doing on-site inspections due to the levels of radioactive cesium. It was reported that the levels were 3 to 6 times higher than the safety standards expected. These were all found in the beef cattle shipped to Tokyo by a farmer in the Northern region of Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Further tests done around the plan have shown that cattle on about 500 beef cattle farms which included the farms within the evacuation zone, revealed that about 14 farms had shipped a total of 554 cattle that had eaten straw with radioactive cesium. The cesium levels in this grass was said to be 500 times higher than the safety standard. The cattle are being reported to have been shipped between March 28 and July 13 to 10 different prefectures which included Tokyo and Japan. A sample test done by the government failed to spot the contamination before the locally produced meat was shipped over to the prefectures.
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There is some evidence to suggest that the farmers that fed their cattle straw were not aware of the government’s guide passed on the 17th of March not to feed the cattle with straw kept outside. Ignorance might be to blame as well as a poor awareness campaign on the government’s end. For something as crucial as this, there was need for an extensive awareness campaign to inform the farmers.
However, Jiro Ohasaki said the government failed to implement the awareness fully because of the March 11th earthquake and the tsunami. Jiro Ohsaki, who is an official at the Fukushima prefecture, said:
“It was announced soon after the disaster when there was neither electricity nor gasoline and roads were disrupted. Also some farmers did not understand that the category of grass and other feed includes rice straw.”
Unlike grass, rice straw is a rare, locally produced feed in Japan, where corn, the main ingredient of compound feed, is almost all imported from abroad.
The prefecture government, which has already checked more than 33,000 beef cattle, plans to inspect all of Fukushima’s 4,000 cattle farms by August 3rd in an effort to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again.