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Check your mushrooms

April 10, 2012


High levels of radioactive cesium detected in shiitake mushrooms grown in Chiba



CHIBA -- Levels of radioactive cesium exceeding the government's new safety standards have been detected in shiitake mushrooms grown by a farmer here, prompting prefectural authorities to call for a suspension of shipments.

The Chiba Prefectural Government announced on April 9 that 740 becquerels per kilogram of cesium was detected in shiitake mushrooms grown outdoors by a farmer in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture -- levels in excess of the government's new limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram, which took effect on April 1. The prefectural government has consequently requested the Shiroi Municipal Government to have farmers refrain from shipments.

According to prefectural officials, the farmer sold a total of some 4 kilograms of shiitake mushrooms at an unmanned farm stand between March 20 and 25. Later feeling anxious, the farmer asked the city to measure radiation levels in the mushrooms on March 30, leading to the detection of the high levels of radiation.

City officials further found that another farmer in the city had also likely sold some 5 kilograms of shiitake mushrooms, whose radiation levels may have surpassed the new safety standard. The city had not been aware that the two farmers were growing shiitake mushrooms.

In a similar revelation, the Tochigi Prefectural Government announced on April 9 that levels of cesium topping the central government's new safety limit were detected in shiitake mushrooms grown outdoors in seven municipalities in Tochigi Prefecture, including Utsunomiya and Shioya. The mushrooms grown in Shioya were found to have contained 950 becquerels of cesium -- the largest amount among the seven municipalities.

The Tochigi Prefectural Government requested the towns of Haga and Nasu to refrain from shiitake shipments, on top of five other municipalities that the prefecture has already called on to suspend shipments.

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