A scare over radiation-tainted beef in Japan spread on Monday as more cows from seven farms in the Fukushima region were found to have been trucked across the country after eating contaminated straw.
The 411 cattle, from the same prefecture as the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, were sent to meat processing centres in six other regions including Tokyo between March 28 and July 6, prefecutural officials said.
The food scare started a week ago when meat contaminated with radiation from 11 cows at a farm just outside the 20-kilometre Fukushima nuclear no-go zone was reported to have been moved around the country and probably eaten.
On Sunday, Japanese media reported that meat from another 132 cattle that ate straw tainted with high levels of radioactive caesium are known to have been shipped to 36 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
Some supermarkets in the capital Tokyo have put up signs warning about radioactive beef.
The Japanese government is expected on Tuesday to ban all beef shipments from Fukushima prefecture, where the atomic plant is still emitting radiation fourth months after it was hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan has not set up a centralised system to check food for radiation, relying instead on testing carried out by local authorities.
On Monday, Fukushima officials told a news conference that they detected up to 157,000 becquerels of radioactive caesium per kilogram in straw used at the farms — about 520 times the government-designated limit.