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Vegetables Contaminated

Samples in Selangor market tested positive, but S'pore imports safe

Tiffany Tan
Aug 28 2007 (TODAY)

Almost one-third of the vegetables from a Selangor wholesale market
contained pesticide residues exceeding the levels allowed by law.

This was the finding of a five-year study conducted by Malaysia's
Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia,
the New Straits Times reported.

The study found that all celery and curry leaf samples taken from the
wholesale market in Selayang tested positive for three groups of
cancer-causing pesticides, the Malaysian daily reported.

At the same time, at least 40 per cent of the spinach, kangkung, round
cabbage and Chinese mustard were contaminated. Of the vegetables that
tested positive for residues, almost one-third exceeded the maximum level
allowed under Malaysian law.

IMR researcher Dr Nurul Izzah Ahmad described the findings as "alarming".
Despite this, he said the potential health risk of consuming these
pesticide residues is "low".

"We did not wash the vegetables prior to testing them, so that we could
get the maximum level of pesticide residue," he said.

"But before eating them, most people would have washed, soaked and cooked
the vegetables, greatly reducing the amount of residues consumed."

When asked if any of the vegetables in Singapore comes from the Selayang
market, Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said that it
did not matter which wholesale market the vegetables come from, as long as
the AVA could trace it to the source farms.

"All consignments of vegetables are tagged and the AVA can trace its
source," AVA assistant director for corporate communications Goh Shih
Yong told Today. The AVA has an inspection system to ensure that imported
vegetables are safe and wholesome for consumption, he said. "If food is
not safe, it cannot be sold."

Singapore imported from Malaysia, 178,970 tonnes of vegetables, or 48 per
cent of total imports, last year. That year, 41.8 tonnes of total imports
were destroyed due to excessive levels of pesticides.

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