Radioactivity levels above normal has been detected in tea fields near Tokyo.

According to local authorities, the presence of 570 becquerels of cesium per kilogram was found on tea leaves grown at Minamiashigara in Kanagawa Prefecture, south-west of the capital.

Much of the production of quality teas from Japanese prefectures are from the south of the archipelago. However the prefecture has suspended sales of tea and asked for the recall of products already shipped, although the level of cesium is not considered dangerous to humans. Nevertheless opinions differ about the health risks of radioactivity levels in tea. Tea leaves are actually considered as vegetables and therefor subject to the same limit of cesium than any other plant food (500 becquerels per kilogramme).

According to the japanese agriculture ministry, standards should be set for brewed tea because radioactivity levels substantially decline after tea leaves are decocted.

Since the discovery of those radioactivity levels, the prefecture has suspended shipments of tea leaves from all of Kanagawa, not just Minamiashigara. In Europe, commodities from Japan will be particularly controlled as announced by European authorities.

Although the source of the contamination have not been formally identified, recent events in Fukushima are likely the cause. The nuclear plant is located about 175 miles of Minamiashigara.

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