An apple packer said Friday his company has stopped shipping apples to Japan until it learns how a fungicide got on two apples tested in a random sample by a Japan health agency.
“It’s a technical issue not a safety issue but because of the integrity of this program, we feel we need to pull this fruit until we know exactly what’s going on,” said Ray Keller, general manager of Northwestern Fruit & Produce Co. in nearby Gleed.
In a random sampling of apples purchased at shops in the Tokyo area, two apples imported from Washington state were found to have trace amounts of a fungicide that should have been cleaned off, Japanese health officials said Friday.
The chemical is used by both Japanese and American farmers while growing the apples, but is supposed to be removed after the apples are harvested.
The amounts found on the apples, both Golden Delicious from Washington state, would not have a harmful effect on humans, said Satoshi Takaya of the Food and Health division at the Health Ministry.
The chemical’s presence baffles Keller, who said it should not have been applied to the fruit intended for the Japanese market.
“At this point, we have suspicions,” he said. “Beyond that we do not have any factual clarification at this point.”