SHANGHAI forestry authorities said yesterday that fruit planted in the city is wrapped up in plain paper bags as it ripens and is safe to eat.

They were responding to worries about residue from pesticide-lined bags used on young apples in a major apple production area in east China's Shandong Province.

Yang Chufeng, deputy director with the Shanghai Forestry Station, said most local fruit growers use bags made of raw paper pulp, all of which are purchased and delivered uniformly by the forestry authorities and contain no pesticide.

Local growers also receive government subsidies ranging between 100 yuan (US$15.8) and 150 yuan for using 5,000 or 8,000 plain paper bags to wrap peaches or pears for every 0.067 hectare of land, Yang said.

Wrapping fruit such as pears and peaches as it ripens can shield the fruit from blemishes from pollution and pests. In the past, growers used newspaper to wrap up fruit.

Earlier, media reported some apple farmers in Shandong Province used toxic pesticide-coated bags to prevent dark spots on apple skins caused by pests.

It was reported the pesticides the farmers used included asomate and tuzet, a mixture of thiram, ziram and urbacid.

Consuming large amounts of residue can lead to skin disorders and symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Apples from Shandong Province account for over half of all apples sold in Shanghai.

No excessive toxic residues on apples have been reported.

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