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Fruit registration rule extended
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Fruit from unregistered orchards or packaging plants will be barred from export starting November 1, a senior quality control official said yesterday.

Fruit exporters will also be required to keep records on the origin, volume and destination of each batch of fruit they ship for at least two years, Yu Taiwei, director of the animal and plant quarantine department of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), said.

He also said during an online interview that the administration had required inspection and quarantine departments across the country to advise orchards and packaging plants on the use of agricultural chemicals, and the prevention and control of harmful organisms.

"Fruits are important, sensitive products in international agricultural trade, so we shall try our best to ensure their safety," Yu said.

The move marks the first time the authorities will require all fruits destined for export to come from registered orchards and packaging plants. Currently, only those exported to North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions meet this standard.

"However, there've been some quarantine problems involving fruits exported to Russia recently, so we've decided to expand the rule to fruits bound for all countries and regions," Yu said.

He said the move was also part of a national campaign on food safety and product quality that started late last month.

Under AQSIQ requirements, registered orchards must be larger than 7 hectares and located at a certain distance from sources of pollution. They should also have sound management systems and be free of major agricultural diseases for the preceding two years.

Packaging plants should be clean and have access to stable fruit supplies from registered orchards.

Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture show the country exported 3.7 million tons of fruit last year, about the same as the previous year. However, the value of the goods shipped hit US$2.5 billion, which was up 22 percent year-on-year. The US, Japan and Russia were the country's top three trade partners, with apples, oranges and fruit juice as the major products.

Yu said the administration had also urged inspection and quarantine departments across the country to upgrade facilities and improve work to prevent unsafe fruit from entering the country.

They must also establish a blacklist of illegal importers and exporters.

Official figures show that more than 1.25 million tons of fruits entered China last year, up 9.9 percent over the previous year, with bananas, oranges, grapes and kiwi fruits as the most popular goods.

(China Daily September 21, 2007)

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