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Japan finds contaminated lettuce shipment

by Staff Writers
Osaka (AFP) March 26, 2011
Lettuce contaminated with radiation above the legal limit has been found at a wholesale market in central Japan, shipped from a farm north of Tokyo, officials said Saturday.

The health ministry said the level of radioactive iodine was 2,300 becquerels per kilogram, above the limit of 2,000.

It was detected in red leaf lettuce shipped to Nagoya, hundreds of kilometres (miles) from a stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture.

The vegetable, which came from a farm in Koga in Ibaraki prefecture, which borders Fukushima, was also found to contain 150 becquerels of caesium, which is within the safe limits.

While shipments of Fukushima lettuce have been halted by the government due to radiation worries, there are no such restrictions on Ibaraki lettuce.

"It's highly regrettable that we're hearing multiple reports of food items showing radiation levels about the limits," chief government spokesman Yukio Edano told a news conference.

He reiterated calls for the public to stay calm, saying the contaminated vegetables did not pose an immediate threat to human health.

The government has halted shipments of untreated milk and many vegetables from Fukushima and three neighbouring prefectures, and stepped up radiation monitoring at another six, covering an area that borders Tokyo.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and deadly tsunami on March 11 severely damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant, which is leaking harmful radioactivity that has prompted the evacuation of local residents.

Higher than normal radiation has also been detected in tap water in and around Tokyo, some 250 kilometres (155 miles) from the plant, leading authorities at one stage to warn against using it for baby milk formula.

Several countries have banned imports of certain Japanese food from affected regions.

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Taiwan bans food imports from five Japan areas
Taipei (AFP) March 25, 2011
Taiwan on Friday imposed a ban on food imports from five Japanese areas near a quake-damaged nuclear power plant due to radiation concerns. The ban, which takes effect immediately, covers food items from Fukushima, where the plant is located, and four other areas nearby, said Wang Jet-chau, a health department spokesman. "We will continue monitoring the situation in Japan and might exten ... read more

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