Plan to buy, burn contaminated Japanese beef

Beef Central, 27/07/2011

Japanese meat industry organisations plan to buy all supplies of domestically produced beef affected by caesium contamination, incinerate it and sue the owner of the Nuclear Power stations affected by the March Tsunami, local press reports suggest.

The Japan Times yesterday claimed agriculture minister Michihiko Kano had said industry organisations would attempt to secure all ‘radioactive’ domestic beef that had been shipped to the market in a bid to dispel mounting consumer fears over food safety as well as provide financial relief to suffering livestock farmers.

The Japanese government would have meat industry organisations buy all beef contaminated with radioactive cesium that exceeded government limits, and they would in turn seek to recoup their costs from Tokyo Electric Power Co, owner of the power stations involved.

One estimate suggested the plan would cost at least ¥2 billion (roughly $2 million).

The organisations would also pay the storage fees for beef that did not exceed the radiation limit but which had been barred from shipment, the agriculture ministry told the Japan Times.

Meat organisations would also give financial support to livestock farmers in Fukushima Prefecture by paying ¥50,000 for each beast in their herds, the ministry said. The aid program might be extended to farmers in other prefectures where cesium-tainted hay was fed to cattle.

The plan calls for the organizations to seek compensation to cover all of their costs from Tokyo Electric Power Co, an official at the agriculture ministry's meat and egg division, told The Japan Times.

He said the ministry had not decided which meat industry organisation will carry out the process.

If the organisations did not have enough funds to cover all the cost of purchasing and incinerating the product, they would be encouraged to seek loans from banking institutions, the spokesman said. Japan’s Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation would subsidise interest payments.

"By ensuring only safe beef is distributed, we hope to ease consumers' anxiety," agriculture minister Kano told reporters after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

According to the Agriculture ministry, 2906 cattle in 16 prefectures had so far been identified as fed contaminated rice straw before shipment up to yesterday. Twenty-three out of 274 beef samples were found to contain radioactive cesium above the government limit.


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