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Health Ministry defends fruit safety in Beijing supermarkets

CHINA'S Ministry of Health said today that fruit sold in supermarkets in Beijing had been tested and found to meet national standards, in response to a Greenpeace report in July on pesticide residues on fruit sold in the national capital.

The Greenpeace report on fruit and vegetable safety, published on its website, said 17 pesticides had been detected in melons, apples, peaches, nectarines and cherries bought in four supermarket chains, including Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Lotus and Vanguard, in Beijing.

However, a notice issued today by the ministry on its official website said all the 17 pesticides found were normal and permitted and the amounts of residues were within national standards limits.

It said the tests were jointly conducted by the health and agriculture ministries, the State General Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine, and Beijing municipal government.

No banned and highly-toxic pesticides had been detected in the tested fruit, the notice said.

The notice also said the report provided by the Greenpeace-authorized inspection body was non-standard because it lacked criteria on testing samples.

All the fruit involved in the Greenpeace report had "no safety issues," the notice said.

Luo Yuannan, food and agriculture campaigner in the Greenpeace Beijing Office, told Xinhua in a phone call that pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables could be a long-term threat to human health.

But Luo admitted that the amounts of pesticide residues they found in fruit samples did not exceed national standards.

"We have always paid close attention to food safety. It's not an issue that only governments are responsible for. Producers and sellers, such as supermarkets, should do more," Luo said.

Greenpeace would issue an online notice in response to the ministry soon, said Luo.


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