The government will buy up all beef found to contain radioactive cesium at levels exceeding the allowable limit, and incinerate it, a senior farm ministry official said Thursday.
Nobutaka Tsutsui, senior vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said the ministry is considering expanding the inspections currently imposed on all cattle shipped from Fukushima Prefecture to those from other prefectures.
“We’re considering how much we can broaden the inspections on all the cattle and farms from outside Fukushima Prefecture,” he said.
The latest move came as beef suspected of being contaminated with the isotope was found to have reached Tottori Prefecture, leaving just one prefecture in the country unaffected by the growing beef scare.
The Tottori government said a farm in the prefecture bought rice straw prepared in Miyagi Prefecture, and that most of its 200 to 300 bovines that had possibly eaten it were marketed within Tottori between April and July.
Meanwhile a Kyodo News tally revealed the same day a total of 1,349 cows suspected of being fed rice straw containing radioactive cesium have been shipped to 45 prefectures.
Prefectural surveys received Wednesday showed that 699 head of cattle suspected of contamination were shipped from farms in Iwate, Akita, Gunma, Niigata, Gifu and Shizuoka prefectures, adding to cows found to have been shipped from farms in Niigata, Fukushima, Yamagata and Saitama prefectures.
In Iwate, up to 57,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram — far above the government limit of 300 becquerels — was detected in rice straw given to cattle at five farms in Ichinoseki and Fujisawa, according to the prefectural government. It was the first time cesium has been found in rice straw produced in the prefecture.
Farms in Shizuoka, Akita, Gunma and Gifu had been feeding their cattle with rice straw produced in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, bringing to eight the number of prefectures that have received shipments of rice straw produced in Miyagi.
Radioactive cesium is believed to be coming from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
While more than 1,000 cattle suspected of radioactive contamination were confirmed to have been shipped, less than 10 percent of the beef was inspected. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry decided Wednesday to request municipalities across the country to put priority on inspecting beef already in the market rather than monitoring vegetables and other products waiting to be shipped. Farms in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, purchased 70 tons of rice straw produced in Tome. Tests showed the straw had 9,380 becquerels of cesium per kilogram.