TOKYO -- Concerns about radiation-tainted beef intensified Sunday in Japan as officials struggled to determine the scope of the problem and prevent further contamination of the meat supply.
The government prepared to suspend cattle shipments from Fukushima amid a growing tally of cows that fed on rice straw containing high levels of radioactive cesium. The development underscores the widespread and still-unfolding impact of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.
The straw was harvested from rice paddies in the prefecture after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged cooling systems and triggered the release of radiation from the plant. The region's agricultural sector was among the hardest-hit as radiation seeped into water, affecting spinach and other leafy vegetables.
Distributors nationwide bought meat from the exposed cows, and some has already reached consumers.
Major supermarket chain operator Aeon Co. says more than 703 pounds (319 kilograms) of that meat ended up at 14 of its outlets in Tokyo and nearby prefectures. Between late April and mid-June, customers at those stores bought beef that came from a farm in Asakawa, Fukushima where cattle ate radiation-trained straw, according to the company.
Aeon says it will protect consumers by strengthening its radiation testing systems for beef.
Senior Vice Health Minister Kohei Otsuka said Sunday that the government may consider expanding the expected cattle restriction beyond Fukushima.
"We may need to increase our response by checking the distribution of contaminated straw," he said on a national television talk show.
His comments came a day after Fukushima's government said 84 head of cattle shipped from five farms had been fed contaminated straw.
The volume of Japanese exports rose a seasonally adjusted 2.3 per cent in July from June as stronger demand from Asia and replenishment of inventories boosted manufacturers, the Ba
Japanese couples, too busy for a normal social life, are increasingly turning to actors to play their friends on the most important days of their lives. Several agencies have spru