Japan PM: stop eating vegetables from near nuclear plant

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan's prime minister urged people on Wednesday to stop eating leafy vegetables grown near the country's quake-stricken nuclear plant after radiation levels exceeding safety standards were found in 11 types of vegetables, local media said.

The contaminated vegetables included broccoli, spinach, cabbage and cauliflower, the health ministry said.

Traces of radiation exceeding national safety standards have already been found in milk and vegetables from areas around the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant, in Fukushima prefecture, about 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

More than 160 times the safety standard of radioactive cesium had been detected in a leafy green known as "kukitatena," according to tests conducted on Monday.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan also ordered neighboring Ibaraki prefecture to halt shipment of raw milk and parsley, Kyodo said.

Tiny levels of radioactive iodine have also been found in tap water in Tokyo, one of the world's largest cities. Traces of radiative substances have also been found in the Pacific Ocean, in the waters off the stricken plant.

More than 400 engineers, as well as military, police and firefighters, have been battling to try to cool down the reactors at the plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.