Bags of trouble

Updated: 2012-06-13 13:50

(China Daily)

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Nothing seems to loom larger in this country than food safety, with hazardous foods being revealed one after another.

The latest to join the list is Yantai apples, which are wrapped with paper bags containing the chemicals tuzet and asomate during their growth. This has caused concern for their safety, although further tests are needed to ascertain the degree of risk people may face in eating such apples.

Paper bags were first introduced to prevent apples from being contaminated when pesticides were sprayed on the trees, a practice that is done more than a dozen times a year. But in recent years bag dealers have started to promote bags impregnated with pesticides and chemicals, claiming that such bags make the apples look nicer and easier to keep. The bags are produced by small workshops.

In March this year, the local government launched a crackdown on the use of such bags and announced a ban on their use.

Immediately after a report by Beijing News, the agricultural department of East China's Shandong province has sent a team to investigate the matter and test the bags impregnated with chemicals. And the Yantai city government has also taken action to find out if the bags are widely used and whether they really affect the apples.

What both local governments have done should be appreciated. But they still should be held accountable for failing to bring home the awareness among local apple growers that it is not easy to establish a good reputation, but all too easy to destroy it when one acts in a dishonest manner. They are also to blame for the failure to realize how serious the consequences will be for the future of this profitable local industry. They should close all the bag workshops at soon as possible.

Millions of tons of Yantai apples are sold to various parts of the country and overseas every year. The scandal will in all probability seriously affect their sales.

Transparency is the best remedy. Since the local government has not done enough to convince villagers of the necessity to keep their apple growing green, it is time for it to show its determination to solve the problem once and for all.

The more thoroughly action is taken, the more likely the reputation of Yantai apples will be saved.