TOKYO, Aug. 8 (Kyodo) — Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto has instructed his ministry to refrain from claiming the safety of Japanese foods, changing its stance after radiation-contaminated beef was found to have been sold to consumers in Japan, sources close to the matter said Sunday.
The change is due to discoveries of radiation-contaminated meat from cattle fed rice straw laden with radioactive cesium spewed from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
To deal with overseas concern about Japanese foods, the foreign ministry instructed Japanese embassies and other diplomatic offices abroad to fully explain to local authorities, importers, and media organizations about measures the Japanese government is taking to prevent a recurrence of contaminated food from making into distribution channels, as well as its stance to disclose safety information in a timely manner.
On July 8, Matsumoto said at a press conference that he wanted to erase concerns about food safety in Japan by explaining sufficiently.
But several countries have since inquired about the beef scare after a number of cattle suspected of being fed cesium-tainted rice straw were found to have been shipped to market and their meat distributed to stores and restaurants in Japan.