TOKYO (majirox news) — Bans of beef shipments from Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures could be lifted as early as Aug. 19 if the farmers have proved their cattle are safe from radiation contamination, government sources said.
The government slapped bans on sales of beef from Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Tochigi – the four prefectures most affected by the March 11 disasters including the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis – after radioactive cesium was detected in straw fed to the cattle and in meat that was delivered for consumption.
Government in-fighting has confused the situation for cattle farmers. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s condition for resuming cattle shipments was for farmers to bury underground beyond their farms any contaminated feed. But the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it was too difficult for farmers in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures to meet such a stringent standard and said the tainted straw could be buried on their own land, provided it was sealed in a place far removed from livestock.
The bans will be lifted if a joint inspection by the ministries finds that tainted feed is clearly differentiated from other feed, covered in sheets and buried, not used as food for cattle and registering safe levels of cesium.
Bans on shipments of beef from Iwate and Tochigi prefectures are also set to be removed if farmers there meet the same conditions, government sources said.