2010/12/10

Shanghai halts sale of suspected 'dyed' oranges: report

SHANGHAI, December 10, 2010 (AFP) - Shanghai authorities have ordered fruit vendors to stop selling oranges that have allegedly been dyed with a toxic wax, Chinese media said Friday, in the country's latest food safety scare.

The Shanghai government has ordered tests on the oranges after consumers complained their skin was turning red after coming in contact with oranges sold in local markets, the Oriental Morning Post reported.

"Tissues turn red when you wipe them and if you hold the oranges in your palm, it will turn red," a consumer surnamed Hu told the newspaper.

An unnamed seller at a wholesale agricultural products market told the newspaper that some oranges had been dyed with a toxic industrial wax so "they look fresher and sell at higher prices".

Shanghai authorities have ordered sellers to pull the oranges off their shelves and are conducting tests, the report said.

It was unclear whether the oranges were dyed by sellers in the city or producers in Jiangxi province in eastern China, the report said.

Industrial dyes can damage people's memory, immune systems and cause respiratory problems, the newspaper said.

The Chinese government has come under increasing pressure from its citizens as well as countries such as the United States and Japan to improve the standard of its food and medicines.

In a scandal in 2008, at least six children died and around 300,000 fell sick after consuming milk powder laced with the industrial chemical melamine, which was added to make products appear higher in protein.