According to a special report by Hong Kong’s Ming Pao, after the scandal in Qingzhou, Shandong of keeping cabbage fresh by formaldehyde, a toxic chemical that may cause cancer, another food scandal emerged there yesterday. Mainland media exposed that the vegetable farmers there used toxic pesticide 666 powder and DDVP to keep ginger fresh.
Vegetable farmers revealed on their own their common practice in using toxic pesticide 666 and DDVP to keep ginger fresh for a long time so as to wait for the good time of sale at a good price. The news has roused public outcry. People are concerned “how many default rules there are” in keeping vegetable fresh.
Some vegetable farmers at Shipu Village, Dongxia Town, Qingzhou City said that as the ginger price is only 0.30 yuan (US$0.05) a catty (500 grams) in October when it is fresh on the market, they store fresh ginger in their cellars for more than half a year and then sell it at the good price of 2 yuan (US$0.31) a catty. “It is forbidden by the State, but the pesticide (666 powder) is indispensable in storing ginger in cellars. Otherwise, they will be spoiled by bugs.” The vegetable farmers said: “They (the pesticides) are always used” when vegetable farmers store ginger.
When vegetable farmers use DDTV, they open the bottles and put them around the cellars to drive away flies and other insects with its vapor. In addition 666 powder is sprayed on each two layers of ginger for debugging. According to some vegetable farmers, the cost of pesticides used to keep ginger fresh is quite low. For example, storing 25 metric ton ginger in a cellar needs only 20 bottles of DDTV and 150 kg 666 powder that cost about 500 yuan (US$92). They can make much more money as the ginger is not spoiled by bugs.
666 powder is a very dangerous pesticide. Long-term slight taking-in of it through breathing, contact or food may cause cancer while serious taking-in may cause coma and even death. It has long been banned in China. DDTV is also a very dangerous pesticide. It is a kind of organophosphorus pesticide. Food-related use is strictly forbidden. Formaldehyde is generally acknowledged as a cancerigenic chemical. Vegetable traders have used it to keep vegetable fresh for 3 to 4 years, but have never been investigated or punished.
At present, China’s “Law of Agricultural Products Safety” contains no rules on the scope and dosage in using antistaling agents and additives. As a result, local governments have no law to go by. Moreover, formaldehyde is not included in the scope of test for agricultural products.
According to Duan Xuewu, a research fellow in South China Botany Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Science, as formaldehyde is well soluble in water, most of it can be removed from cabbages by much washing and dipping in water. The risk can also be removed through thorough cooking. Pesticides such as 666 powder and DDTV mostly remain on the surface of agricultural products. Vegetable has to be washed and brushed clean before taken as food.
- Toxic cabbage another food scandal in China (chinadailymail.com)
- Bak choi found to be sprayed with formalin (chinadailymail.com)
- Pesticide found in use for ginger preservation (fmnnow.com)