Contaminated straw wasn’t covered; tainted meat found in Tokyo leads to check of farm
FUKUSHIMA — Straw fed to cattle at a farm in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, was found to have high levels of radioactive cesium, local officials said Monday.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government took feed and water samples from the farm Sunday after radioactive cesium was found in the meat of 11 cows shipped from there to Tokyo for processing.
More than 10,000 becquerels per kg of cesium were detected in the straw that had been placed in an unroofed area of the farm when the earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 11, they said.
Up to 3,200 becquerels per kg of radioactive cesium were detected in the meat, or up to six times higher than the provisional ceiling of 500 becquerels per kg. The contaminated beef did not reach retailers, the officials said.
No radioactive substances, however, were detected on the cow carcasses at the time of shipment, the prefecture said.
In the voluntary inspection, local government officials took samples of feed and straw from the farm and well water given to the cows to determine how the cows were exposed to radioactive substances.
The officials took about 2? hours to inspect the cattle shed and the well and to ask the farm operator how the cows are managed and the type and amount of feed they are given.
“I’m sure consumers are also anxious, so we hope the prefecture will identify the cause,” a family member of the farm’s operator said after Sunday’s inspection.
Minamisoma is near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which has been releasing radioactive materials since it was crippled by the March 11 tsunami.
According to the prefectural government, the farm fed the cows with a livestock feed blend made outside the prefecture, while the water was from the well.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Saturday that high levels of radioactive cesium had been detected in meat from 10 cows shipped to a meat-packing plant in Tokyo from Minamisoma, a day after it announced that a similarly excessive level had been found in the meat of one of 11 cows shipped to the capital from the northeastern city.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government asked Minamisoma on Saturday to voluntarily refrain from shipping beef cattle from all areas of the city.
In addition to the 11 cows, a total of six cows from the farm in Minamisoma were shipped to meat-processing plants in Tokyo and Tochigi Prefecture in May and June, according to related local governments.
Although meat from the 11 cows has not been distributed, meat from the six cows — five shipped to Tokyo and one to Tochigi — has been processed and may have reached the market, prompting local authorities to check where the meat was distributed.