People plant rice on a paddy field on the outside Phnom Penh August 10, 2014. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
People plant rice on a paddy field on the outside Phnom Penh August 10, 2014. REUTERS/Samrang Pring REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture, the site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster accident, the world's worst so far, has passed radiation checks. It was the first time since Japan conducted the tests in 2012.

Tsuneaki Oonami, a Fukushima official who heads the department that oversees Fukushima rice farming, said a total of 360,000 tonnes of rice were included in the radiation tests. None surpassed the 100 becquerels per kilogramme limit set by the government. All of the rice were part of 2014's harvest of 10.75 million bags.

"The fact that the amount of rice that does not pass our checks has steadily reduced in the last three years indicates that we're taking the right steps," Reuters quoted Oonami. In 2012, the Fukushima prefectural government bought close to 200 radiation checking devices to monitor the state of all rice grown in the prefecture.

Since implementing the testing routine three years ago, authorities noticed the number of bags of rice tested and confirmed with radiation levels higher than the set limit continued to decelerate. In 2012, 71 bags of rice exceeded the safety limit standards, while only 28 bags were recorded to have the same in 2013. The bags containing rice with higher radiation are destroyed, according to The Asahi Shimbun, while bags of rice with less radiation are stamped with labels saying that testing has been completed.

Japan was forced to ban the exports of fish and other produce from the area as a consequence of the meltdown of three of the six reactors of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The plant is operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Food Safety News, citing Oonami, reported paddies in Fukushima have been "considerably decontaminated." Moreover, area farmers are using potassium fertiliser to limit the amount of radioactive cesium absorbed by the rice plants. But Oonami believes it will still be a long time before the marketplace places its trust to buy and actually consume agricultural products sourced from Fukushima. South Korea in 2013 barred the entry of imported fish from eight regions of Japan, including Fukushima.