By Yuka Ito (AFP) – 19th July, 2011
TOKYO — Japan on Tuesday suspended cattle shipments from Fukushima prefecture on fears of radiation-tainted beef in the country’s meat distribution chain, four months after a nuclear accident in the region.
Tokyo told Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato to “halt shipments of all cattle in Fukushima to meat-packing factories,” until the safety of the meat can be confirmed, chief government spokesman Yukio Edano told reporters.
Around 650 beef cattle, including more than 500 from Fukushima alone, are thought to have been contaminated with radioactive caesium from hay they were fed before being sent to meat processing facilities across Japan since late March.
Beef from the cattle was shipped to most of Japan’s 47 prefectures and some of the meat is thought to have already been consumed.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday apologised before parliament for the issue. “I feel the responsibility for not being able to prevent this from happening and I am very sorry,” he said.