A tea producer blended the tea with radioactive cesium with the tea without radioactive cesium so that he could sell off his radioactive tea. An operator of a sewer sludge plant knowingly sold radioactive sludge to a manufacturer of garden soil because there was no national government standard when he sold it. Their reason: "It's safer that way, as radioactive cesium will be diluted".
Many Japanese consumers seem dismayed to find out that there are people among them who would do such a thing, but there are people like that, unfortunately. And as the article cites one government agency, it is clearly none of the government's business to do anything about it anytime soon.
From Tokyo Shinbun paper version (not online; 10/3/2011), extremely quick translation subject to revision later if necessary:
Dilute cesium and sell - blend tea, garden soil - so that the cesium level is below the limit
After the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident spread radioactive materials, the provisional safety limit was set for variety of foods and goods. If an item tests less than the provisional limit it is considered "guaranteed safe". As the result, there are businesses that mix [radioactive goods] with those made in places far away from Fukushima Prefecture to dilute radioactive materials and sell them. Currently it is not against the law to do so, but the consumers who doubt the safety of the products and the producers who fear further "baseless rumor" damages are voicing concern.
According to our research, we have been able to confirm instances of goods being sold after diluting the radioactive cesium content - garden soil and green teas.
In case of garden soil, sludge from water purification plants and sewage treatment plants had been used as an ingredient of the garden soil before the provisional safety limit for sludge was set. Sludge contains vital ingredients like phosphorus and potassium, and it is mixed with the soil at 10 to 20% ratio to make the garden soil.
The safety standard for radioactive materials in sludge was established on June 16, but some water purification plants in Kanagawa Prefecture had sold the total of 4,538 tonnes of sludge to the garden soil manufacturers from April up till June 16.
As for green tea, the tea producer was mixing the tea that passed the provisional safety limit but which still contained radioactive cesium with the tea made in Kyushu, far away from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. The blend was the radioactive tea 20%, the Kyushu tea 80%.
Most water purification plants had voluntarily stopped shipping the radioactive sludge until the provisional safety limit was decided. However, the company who runs this particular water purification plant that continued to ship says, "The detection level was low. If the sludge was made into the garden soil it would be diluted further". The company blames the manufacturers who bought the radioactive sludge, saying "The ultimate responsibility rests with those who make [the sludge] into final products and sell them". The company is currently selling the radioactive sludge to the businesses that supply dirt for construction projects, as the national government has sent out an instruction that "the use of radioactive sludge in the garden soil had better be suspended".
According to the green tea producer, there weren't enough of the tea leaves that passed the safety limit [but still contained radioactive cesium] to make it worthwhile to sell, so the company decided to mix it to make a "blend tea". The person in charge of the "blend tea" says "We made it clear in the package that it was a "blend tea", so there should be no problem. We just wanted to make the tea safer for the consumers".
These practices are not illegal, and when the contaminated products are mixed with non-contaminated products there should be less ill-effect on humans. However, if this "dilute and sell" model takes hold, it will only add to doubt and confusion for the consumers. Damage from "baseless rumors" may spread to milk and rice. It has been a standard practice to mix milk from different locations. The same goes for rice.
The national consumer association federation chief proposes the detailed labeling of the place of manufacture on a prefectural level so that the consumers can choose safely.
However, there is no law requiring the place of manufacture for the garden soil, and there is no voluntary guideline by the industry either. The national standard for food labeling only requires the label "Made in Japan" in the case of "blended" produce like rice and tea and processed foods; there is no requirement to show the name of prefecture where the product is made. The Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan [which is supposed to regulate the industries with the welfare of consumers in mind] is not going to do anything at this point, saying "Places of manufacture for the blended goods may change, so it is not practical to require detailed labels".
On the other hand, the head of the Worldwide Agricultural Policy Information Center is critical. He says "The role of the national government is to stop the spread of radioactive materials. To allow goods with radioactive materials to be diluted and and sold widely would be considered as approval by the national government to spread the contamination [all over Japan]". JA agricultural co-op Fukushima is also distrustful of the government policy [or lack thereof], saying "There will be no "baseless rumors" if the produce that is found with radioactive materials is not sold".
However, for now, we can only count on the voluntary effort by the industries. A new national policy would be necessary, just like when there was a problem of labeling "made in Japan" and "imported" goods.
It's funny and ironic that JA Fukushima says that, when it has been pushing radioactive produce to the rest of Japan, calling anyone who doesn't want to eat Fukushima produce as "discriminating against Fukushima people" and therefore "racist".