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Japanese baby food is radioactive

Traces of radiation from Japan's wrecked nuclear plant have been found in baby formula, the latest case of contaminated food from the disaster.

Major food maker Meiji is recalling canned powdered milk for infants, with expiration dates of October 2012, as a precaution.

The levels of radioactive caesium were well below government-set safety limits, and the company said the amounts were low enough not to have any affect on babies' health even if they drank the formula every day.

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

"There is no problem because the levels are within the government limit," said a Health Ministry spokesman.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan sent three reactors into meltdown at Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which have been spewing radiation into the air and ocean.

Some of that radiation has crept into food, such as rice, fish and beef. But this was the first time radiation was reported in baby formula. Reports said the milk got contaminated by airborne radioactive caesium while it was being dried.

The levels of caesium-134 and caesium-137 in the milk were up to 31 becquerels per kilogram, which is below the government limit of 200 becquerels per kilogram set for milk.

The government has been reviewing its food safety and other radiation standards because some of them were not clearly defined before the nuclear crisis. Not all food samples are monitored for radiation, and readings have been voluntarily reported by the manufacturers, including the latest by Tokyo-based Meiji.

Many consumers are worried. Some stores are labelling where the food was grown or caught, allowing shoppers to opt for imports or products from parts of the country deemed safe.

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