Chinese apples to be checked for pesticides

HA NOI - Vietnamese agricultural officials yesterday promised to step up checks on China-grown apples imported to the country after media reports alleged that Chinese farmers used pesticide-coated papers to wrap the fruit. At a meeting in Ha Noi yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development directed the Plant Protection Department to promptly have official information regarding the tainted wrapping paper of Chinese apples. Teams may be sent to China for trustworthy information.

Increased checks on Fuji apples imported from China should be an urgent task, Minister Cao Duc Phat said.

Chinese media reported last week that papers used to wrap the apples were coated with the pesticides Tuzet and arsenic fungicide, which cause harm to human health.

The pesticides are meant to protect the surface of the apples and keep out diseases that could hurt the crop yield.

The department's director Nguyen Xuan Hong said wrapping apples from the time they are young until they are ripe was common, but keeping them in pesticide bags was barred.

He also said Chinese officials had collected 2.7 million fruit wrapping bags, and closed down violated bag manufacturers.

The department has guided two testing centres to get samples of Fuji apples sold in Ha Noi and HCM City for testing. The results will be provided to the department in the next four days.

Hong also said that the number of apples imported from China was not high at this time, while the import soared between October and March.

China is the world's biggest supplier of Fuji apples, with 40 per cent of the global supply.

The department also said that checks on imported fruit and vegetables since earlier this year showed that 105 out of 415 samples tested contained residue of 24 different chemicals, but all were at allowable levels.