Japan’s meat sector to buy, burn ‘radioactive’ beef

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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TOKYO – In recent weeks, the international media has been abuzz about reports of radioactive beef being shipped from Japan in the aftermath of that nation’s earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. On July 26, Japanese Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano said his country’s meat industry organizations will purchase all radioactive domestic beef that has been shipped from Japan to the marketplace in order to diminish mounting consumer fears plus provide financial relief to affected livestock farmers of the contaminated beef, The Japan Times relayed.

Japan’s government will have its meat industry organizations buy all beef contaminated with radioactive cesium surpassing the government limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram, and they will in turn seek to recoup their costs from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). The agriculture ministry added these organizations will also pay the storage fees for beef not exceeding the radiation limit but were banned from being shipped.

Japanese meat organizations will also provide financial support to livestock farmers in Fukushima Prefecture by paying ¥50,000 (US$640) for each head of beef cattle they raise, the ministry said. The ministry is also considering aiding farmers in other prefectures who fed cesium-tainted hay to their cattle.

This plan directs the organizations to seek compensation to cover all of their costs from TEPCO. However, the ministry hasn't decided which meat industry organizations will play what role, including incinerating all or most of the tainted meat.

If enough funds don’t exist to cover all costs, the organizations will get loans from banking institutions, plus Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corp. will subsidize interest payments.

As of July 26, Japan’s agriculture ministry claims 2,906 cows in 16 prefectures were fed contaminated rice straw before shipment. Oout of 274 samples, 23 were found to contain radioactive cesium above the Japanese government’s limit.
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