TOKYO, (Reuters) – Japan’s second-biggest retailer said yesterday it had sold beef from cattle that ate nuclear-contaminated feed, the latest in a series of health scares from radiation leaking from a quake-crippled nuclear power plant.
Cases of contaminated vegetables, tea, milk, seafood and water have already stoked anxiety after the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986, despite assurances from officials that the levels are not dangerous.
Aeon Co said it had sold the contaminated beef at a store in Tokyo and at more than dozen stores in the surrounding area, as radiation continues to spill from the Fukushima nuclear power plant four months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Aeon, which competes with top retail group Seven & I Holdings , said in a statement cattle from Fukushima prefecture were given animal feed originating from rice straw that exceeded the government’s limits for radioactive cesium.
Japan was now likely to ban shipments of beef, hugely popular in Japan, from around Fukushima, a cabinet minister said yesterday. It was not immediately clear what had delayed such a move, likely to inflame criticism that the government has been slow in its response to the crisis.
Aeon said it sold 319 kg (703 lb) of the beef from April 27 to June 20 at one shop in Tokyo and other shops in Kanagawa and Chiba. Aeon said it also sold the beef at outlets in Shizuoka and Ishikawa, both in central Japan.