A Japanese regional government has claimed to have detected radioactive contamination in rice that was well below levels considered hazardous, amid continuing worries in Japan over food safety following the March 11 nuclear disaster.
This is the first time that a public report about rice being affected has emerged following the devastating earthquake-cum-tsunami that rocked the country this year, The Wall Street Journal reports. The tainted rice was found in Ibaraki prefecture, a southern neighbor to Fukushima prefecture, in a city about 90 miles south of the affected Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The prefectural government posted a notice on its website saying it had detected 52 becquerels of radioactive cesium from a kilogram of brown rice collected on August 16 from the city of Hokota in the southern part of the prefecture.
The detected level was about 1/10th of Japan's regulatory limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram. However, it added that no cesium was detected from two other samples taken that day from different locations.
"The level of cesium found in the rice is very low, so this isn't problematic," Takao Shimizu, a deputy chief of the agriculture ministry's department that oversees distribution of rice, said.
Ibaraki is one of six prefectures that have reported test results to the agriculture ministry, and reports suggest that more prefectures will likely start testing their rice soon as the harvesting process starts by September and October.