Chinese grapes, potatoes sold in Vietnam heavily contaminated

TN News

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Excessive amounts of fungicides and insecticides have been found in Chinese grapes and potatoes that have been sold widely with USA labels on them, an official said Tuesday.

The Plant Protection Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development from the beginning of July took 104 fruit and vegetable samples from China and other countries.

The violations were only found in Chinese samples, with two samples of grapes imported from the northern border gate containing excessive amounts of the fungicide difenoconazole, and a potato sample from Saigon port having too much of the insecticide chlorpyrifos ethyl.

Nguyen Xuan Hong, head of the department, said the chemical content was three to five times accepted levels in Vietnam.

"We have punished the violating vendors, and are enhancing inspections in border areas," Hong said.

He also said most fruit and vegetable imports in Vietnam are from China, and the rest is mostly from Thailand, US and New Zealand.

The Chinese grape has been popular in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, advertised and marked as coming from the US. Hong's department officially warned of this fraud in a report earlier this week, saying Chinese grapes are of paler pink or green color, have more seeds than American grapes, and do not taste as sweet.

They are hardly damaged though they are exposed to the sun all day. Vendors sell them at between VND20,000-40,000 (US$1-2) a kilogram but the authorities found they were bought from suppliers at VND6,000 a kilogram.

Earlier this year, the department also tested Fuji apples imported from China, following reports that a large number of apple growers in China have been wrapping their crops in unmarked plastic bags containing a mysterious white "medicinal" powder.

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Farmers and other individuals from agricultural cooperatives said "everyone knows" that Chinese exporters are packing apples in thiram, a dangerous fungicide, and melarsoprol (a toxic organic compound of arsenic), according to Chinese media reports.

But the department in June said they found the apples were safe, with thiram and arsenic detected but under the permitted thresholds.

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