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Japan will restrict rice shipments from an area in Fukushima prefecture after a sample exceeded a new government safety standard for the first time since a stricter level was imposed, rekindling food-safety concerns.
The restriction will be imposed on the Nishifukuro area in Sukagawa city, where grain containing 110 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram was found, said Tomoyuki Araki at the grain division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The limit is 100 becquerels.
Officials are testing all rice in Fukushima for radioactive contamination after last year’s earthquake and tsunami crippled a nuclear plant in the prefecture, contaminating products from vegetables to milk and beef. Shipments will be allowed to resume after confirming the safety of about 12 million bags of rice produced in the prefecture, said Wataru Amano at the agriculture department of the Fukushima government office.
“The restriction won’t have a major impact on rice supply as the affected area represents less than 1 percent of total rice planted in Fukushima prefecture,” Amano said by phone.
Fukushima was the seventh-largest rice producer in Japan last year, representing 4.3 percent of the nation’s harvest, according to the agriculture ministry.
Rice production in Fukushima slumped 20 percent to 351,900 metric tons last year as the government restricted planting of the grain because of radioactive fallout from the nuclear plant.
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