The Japanese government has banned shipments of green tea leaves in four regions after high levels of radioactive caesium were found.
A swathe of Japan’s tea making regions including parts of Tochigi, Chiba and Kanagawa prefecture as well as the whole of Ibaraki were included within the ban, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
Green tea plantations were first highlighted as suffering from potential radiation contamination last month following the results of sample tests in Kanagawa prefecture.
The authorities discovered around 570 becquerels of caesium per kilogram in leaves grown in the city of Minamiashigara – compared to the legal limit of 500 – and started a recall of tea products.
Tea leaves are the latest agricultural products in Japan to be affected by problems surrounding the still-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
From milk to spinach, a raft of items have fallen under the spotlight due to radiation fears although Japanese authorities have assured the public and its export nations that it is strictly regulating products.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been hit hard by the nuclear crisis, due to issues surrounding potential soil contamination and food safety fears with many also having had to abandon their animals in the evacuation area.
By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo
7:00AM BST 03 Jun 2011
Source: The Telegraph