July 28, 2011 / 11:01 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Japan cattle shipment halt expands amid radiation scare

* Govt bans Miyagi beef shipments due to radiation worries

* Excessive radiation found in vegetables, tea, seafood (Adds government confirmation, quotes, rice info)

TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) - Japan extended on Thursday its ban on beef cattle shipments to include Miyagi prefecture after finding radiation levels exceeding safety standards in some cattle, adding to worries over food safety as the country grapples with the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Last week Japan halted shipments of beef cattle from Fukushima prefecture, also located in the tsunami-hit northeast of Japan and host to a crippled nuclear plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co that is still leaking radiation.

Some farmers in the region fed their cows straw that had been left outside after the March 11 earthquake and contaminated with radioactive cesium stemming from leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

“It is very regrettable and we are very sorry for those who are involved in livestock business,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

“We want to continue gathering information and investigating. Of course, we will take measures if necessary from the viewpoint of safety.”

Miyagi beef accounts for about 2.7 percent of Japan’s beef, data from the farm ministry showed.

The beef scare has exacerbated public anxiety over the safety of the food supply. There have also been reports of excessive levels of radiation found in vegetables, tea, milk, seafood and water in the wake of the March 11 disaster.

Radiation concerns over rice, the country’s staple food, are also growing, and the government is planning to announce, possibly by September, how it plans to inspect rice safety, said Nuclear Crisis minister Goshi Hosono. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Yoko Kubota; Editing by Nathan Layne and Miral Fahmy)

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