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State Fines Grocers Over Pesticide-Tainted Produce

Cactus pads, or nopales, are part of a state crackdown on pesticide-tainted produce. Courtesy of California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation.
Cactus pads, or nopales, are part of a state crackdown on pesticide-tainted produce. Courtesy of California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation.
July 30, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO - A half dozen small Asian and Hispanic grocers in California will have to pay fines of $10,000 to $20,000 each for selling imported produce tainted with residue from illegal pesticides.

Charlotte Fadipe, spokesperson with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, announced the latest enforcement this week against six companies in Los Angeles and San Francisco that sold produce from Mexico, China, Taiwan and Thailand.

"We are sick and tired of them gambling with the lives of consumers," says Fadipe. "What's more, we have warned these companies that these amounts of pesticides are illegal, that they have the potential to harm people, and the companies have simply ignored our warnings."

California regulators randomly test fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue. The tainted produce included purslane, squash and cactus pears, leaves and pads, which are also known as nopales. They also pulled tainted longan, burdock root, ginger, taro root, fragrant pear and lychees from the shelves.

Fadipe says the state's toxicologists determined eating the tainted produce could make people sick, but no actual cases have been reported.

"Here's the reality, somebody could buy this produce, go home, cook it. They might get an upset stomach or some kind of flu-like illness two or three days later and not necessarily think, 'Oh it's the produce.' That's the problem," says Fadipe.

A complete list of the stores that were cited is on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation website.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA