Vegetables found to contain excessive pesticide residues

Taipei, July 5 (CNA) Over half of 49 samples of vegetables and sweet pepper in the Consumers' Foundation's latest vegetable safety check were found to contain excessive levels of pesticide, the non-profit non-governmental organization said Friday. The foundation purchased 11 packs of yard-long beans, 15 packs of green beans, 12 packs of peas and 11 bags of sweet peppers from shopping malls, supermarkets, traditional markets and organic stores in Taipei and New Taipei City between April and May. After conducting pesticide residue tests on the vegetables, it found 10 of the bean samples, seven of the green beans samples, eight of peas samples and two of the sweet pepper samples contained excessive amounts of pesticide residue, the foundation said. Among the 49 samples, some even had as many as eight different pesticides in one sample, while others were found to be contaminated by pesticide residue in a concentration of 201 times the safety level, the foundation said. The organization pointed out that the samples tainted by excessive pesticide residues have violated the Act Governing Food Sanitation, which stipulates a fine between NT$60,000 and NT$15 million against such violations. In response to the results, Feng Tung-hai, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Quarantine, said the bureau will step up its surprise checks on vegetables sold in the markets, especially those that are at a high risk of being tainted by pesticide residues. In its advise for people, the Consumers' Foundation suggested consumers thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits they purchase with clean water and soak them in water for 15 to 20 minutes before using them in cooking or eating them raw. (By Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu)