High levels of radioactive cesium have turned up in beef from cattle raised in the region of Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors. Japan’s government has mandated an expansion of its meat monitoring program, reports MSNBC.
The Tokyo metropolitan government said this weekend that testing had detected radiation levels of three to six times the legal limit in beef from 11 cows shipped to Tokyo this month from Minamisoma city, located just outside the 20-mile no-go radius around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The radiation levels are not high enough to cause harm if consumed. None of the affected beef had entered the market, but it raises concerns about meat from the same farm that had previously been sold.
The finding suggests gaps in Japan’s food safety program in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami disaster that battered the nuclear plants in March.
“The message is 'get your safety survey protocols together otherwise people will simply not buy from that area,' ” says Kathryn Higley director of Oregon State University's Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics. “It’s a matter of confidence.”