Via The New York Times: Wary, Japanese Take Food Safety Into Their Own Hands. Excerpt:
ONAMI, Japan — In the fall, as this valley’s rice paddies ripened into a carpet of gold, inspectors came to check for radioactive contamination.
Onami sits just 35 miles northwest of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which spewed radioactive cesium over much of this rural region last March. However, the government inspectors declared Onami’s rice safe for consumption after testing just two of its 154 rice farms.
Then, a few days later, a skeptical farmer in Onami, who wanted to be sure his rice was safe for a visiting grandson, had his crop tested, only to find it contained levels of cesium that exceeded the government’s safety limit. In the weeks that followed, more than a dozen other farmers also found unsafe levels of caesium.
An ensuing panic forced the Japanese government to intervene, with promises to test more than 25,000 rice farms in eastern Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is located.
The uproar underscores how, almost a year after a huge earthquake and tsunami caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Japan is still struggling to protect its food supply from radioactive contamination.
The discovery of tainted rice in Onami and a similar case in July involving contaminated beef have left officials scrambling to plug the exposed gaps in the government’s food-screening measures, many of which were hastily introduced after the accident.