Radiation Contamination in Japanese Baby Formula Sparks Recall

Posted December 6th, 2011 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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A leading Japanese food manufacturer says radioactive cesium has been detected in its baby formula — the latest food scare to grip the country since the nuclear disaster at a power plant northeast of Tokyo nine months ago.

The Meiji Company said Tuesday it has launched an immediate recall of 400,000 cans of powdered milk for infants.

The company said the levels of cesium — an invisible, tasteless and odorless element — were well below government safety limits, and called its recall action “voluntary.”

Meiji says it is not sure how the cesium got into the powdered milk. But it says it suspects it came from the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant, which was crippled March 11 by a massive earthquake and tsunami. A series of subsequent explosions triggered by reactor meltdowns spread contaminants over a vast area of the country.

As news of the recall spread early Tuesday, stock shares of Meiji plummeted.

Cases of excessive radiation in vegetables, tea, seafood, rice, beef and water have sparked alarm among Japanese consumers, despite government reassurances that the heightened levels are not dangerous.

Experts say children are more at risk than adults of getting cancer and other diseases from radiation exposure.