Fake guava-apples being sold in cameron highlands

source: http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.as … sec=nation

Tuesday May 15, 2007

Fake guava-apples being sold

PENANG: Fake guava-apple hybrids are being sold openly at fruit stalls in Cameron Highlands.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the so-called hybrids posed a potential health threat to the people because of the use of artificial colouring.

It can also taint the countrys image because locals and tourists are fooled into thinking that it is a natural hybrid from Cameron Highlands. There is no such hybrid fruit in Cameron Highlands, he told a press conference here yesterday.

Mohamed Idris said the fruits were being sold at RM10 per pair.

He said artificial colouring was used to fool the people into thinking that the guavas were jambu-apple hybrids.

He claimed that colouring agents brilliant blue and tartrazine were mixed for the light-green effect while carmoisine was used for red colouring.

Mohamed Idris said studies in Britain had linked tartrazine and carmoisine to temper tantrums, poor concentration, hyperactivity and allergic reaction in youngsters.

He said the Food Standards Agency in Britain had been reviewing the safety of such additives since 2000.

Although the colouring substances are currently permitted under the (Malaysian) Food Act 1983, we need to question why fresh fruits are allowed to be coloured and modified? he added.

Mohamed Idris said CAP had received complaints from foreign and local tourists who felt cheated after the fruits went bad within a day or two.

He said CAP wrote to the Cameron Highlands health office and the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry last week.

When contacted, farmers in Cameron Highlands said they were puzzled by claims that the fruits were being sold there.

Indian Farmers Association of Cameron Highlands president P. Viswanathan pointed out that guavas and jambu-apples were not even grown there.

There is no such thing. If tourists are complaining about these fake hybrids, the Consumers Association of Penang should show proof, he said.

Federation of Vegetable Farmers Association secretary Chay Ee Mong also said the claims were news to him, adding that the problem might have started from fruit hawkers, not the farmers.