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January 8, 2011

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Watchdog warns of cement in fruit boxes

CEMENT is being added to fruit boxes by unscrupulous producers and traders to make their goods heavier, city market watchdogs have warned.

Consumers have complained that some vendors in local wholesale markets are selling fruit packed in paper boxes containing cement. The practice has already been exposed in Beijing.

One vendor in the Shanghai Shanhua Fruit Wholesale Market admitted he used paper boxes containing cement and that such a box was usually 1 kilogram heavier than other boxes.

However, he denied adding cement, saying it was put there further up the line.

"It's the same at all the fruit markets," the vendor said. "The cement isn't put there by me - these boxes come from fruit producers."

Similar boxes were also found in the Shanghai Agricultural Products Center Wholesale Market. A market manager, who asked not to be named, said considering the huge amount of stock passing through, it was impossible for vendors to tear open each box to check its contents.

However, any vendor found cheating would have to leave the market, he said.

Yuan Yaxiang, of the Shanghai Fruit Association, said box makers sometimes add cement to make boxes stronger. "But if a vendor sells fruit without stating the box weight, it is dishonest," Yuan said.

Next week, the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau will carry out an investigation into the scam, Shen Li, an officer of the bureau, said yesterday.


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