Chinese grapes, potatoes come under strict scrutiny

As of the beginning of September, grapes and potatoes imported from China will be closely monitored and supervised for food hygiene and safety standards, the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced Thursday.

The scrutiny came after two samples of grapes shipped from China to the northern province of Lao Cai, and one of potatoes to Ho Chi Minh City, were last month found exceeding the allowed amount of pesticides by three to five times.

“Products that fail to pass strict scrutiny will be forced to re-export,” said Hoang Trung, deputy head of the ministry’s Plant Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, Chinese grapes are still on sale in markets across Ho Chi Minh City at exorbitant prices thanks to their “grown-in-US” disguise.

Tho, who runs a fruit booth at Pham Van Hai market in Tan Binh District, said he can sell as many as 60 kg of Chinese grapes during the days of high demand.

Chinese grapes are available everywhere at VND130,000 a kg (US$6), which consumers say is too expensive.

To answer consumers’ questions on the high prices, traders simply say the fruits are from the US, and one fruit seller added that“we will never sell Chinese grapes, even when prices are dirt cheap.”

There has been some 100 tons of grapes shipped from China to the wholesale market of Thu Duc, according to its deputy director Nguyen Thanh Ha.

Meanwhile, Chinese potatoes only take a modest place on shelves in markets citywide.
“Potatoes only account for a small proportion of total fruits and vegetables imported from China,” said Ha.

Traders said they no longer sell Chinese potatoes as there is almost no demand.

“As consumers prefer Da Lat potatoes, no traders sell the Chinese products,” said Hoan, a small trader in Tan Dinh market.

Da Lat potatoes are available at VND40,000 a kg, while the Chinese counterparts only fetch a quarter of the rate.


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