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Frozen veggies from China cause health concerns

Date Posted: 2002-08-01

Frozen vegetables imported from China are causing health concerns after it was discovered that they contained as much as nine times the amount of pesticide residue allowed by the Japanese law.

Following the discovery, Hokugan Co. a major importer and distributor of vegetables in Okinawa announced that they would halt all imports from China and destroy the vegetables they have in storage.

Inspectors concluded that the most contaminated was a 1,200 kg lot of spinach imported in February. Most of those were distributed to hospitals and restaurants that subsequently used them.

A Hokugan spokesman said that the discovery of pesticides was a shock to the company. "We have done business with our Chinese suppliers for years and had never this kind of problem before. We completely trusted them," he said.

Chinese experts on agricultural exports to Japan say that a part of the problem is Japanese consumers' notorious pickiness. "If there is even a smallest trace of a bug having eaten a vegetable, Japanese refuse to buy it. That gives growers an incentive to use excessive amounts of pesticides when there's a bad year with insects. For their own markets Chinese growers don't use much pesticides as consumers there don't care much of the looks of vegetables," a Chinese trading company employee explained.

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