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City vows tougher quality checks amid apple contamination fears

(Xinhua)

13:56, June 12, 2012

JINAN, June 12 (Xinhua) -- The city government of a leading Chinese apple production base vowed Tuesday to step up quality checks on its apples amid fears that some of the fruit might have been tainted by banned chemicals.

"We'll take tougher measures to ensure the quality of the apples," said a spokesman with the city government of Yantai, Shandong province, at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Yantai's two leading apple production bases, Qixia and Zhaoyuan, report a combined annual output of at least 600 million kilograms. The apples are sold nationwide as well as exported to many countries.

Beijing News, a Beijing-based metropolitan newspaper, reported on Monday that some of these apples were tainted with banned chemicals including Tuzet and arsenical fungicide.

It said the apples were wrapped in packing containing a diluted chemical.

The spokesman refused to comment on whether the reports were true, but admitted wrappings containing chemicals were previously found in some apple farms.

The local agricultural authorities first found wrappings with banned chemicals in 2010, he said. "The city government issued new regulations to ban the wrappings and step up pesticide management."

The official said Yantai's apples were safe, and tried to dispel fears of pesticide residue.

"The apples passed the Ministry of Agriculture's quality checks in 2010 and 2011," he said. "We exported 217,000 tonnes of apples last year, and not a single quality dispute was reported."

Quality reports from major fruit wholesalers in Beijing and Shanghai were also positive and no excessive pesticide residue was reported, he said.

The official said Yantai authorities have stepped up supervision by checking apple farmers and apple wrapping producers. "Wrappings with banned substance will be confiscated and production will be halted immediately," he said.

Meanwhile, he said authorities will step up checks for pesticide residue on fruit and stop contaminated apples from entering the market.

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