When shopping for fruits in the winter, buyer beware.
Recently, a Mr. Wang from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in south China, was journeying home from a family trip to the historic town of Huanglongxi when he approached a street vendor selling strawberries.
The strawberries Mr. Wang sampled were very tasty, so he decided to make a purchase. He didn’t suspect anything when the vendor stopped him from choosing the strawberries himself, telling him that the fruit was quite fragile.
“I thought the fruit seller made a reasonable request. So I let him pick the strawberries for me,” Mr. Wang told Tianfu Morning Post on Mar. 11.
Upon trying the strawberries at home, the Wang family found that “they were all rather hollow inside and not very tasty.” Upon closer examination, Mr. Wang realized that the insides of each strawberry bore a needle scar.
In an interview with Tianfu Morning Post, Professor Luo from the College of Horticulture at Sichuan Agricultural University explained that some types of strawberries have hollow centers, but this trait could also develop in strawberries that have been injected with growth hormones. Professor Luo thinks that the growth hormones that were used on Mr. Wang’s strawberries are plant growth regulators, and that it shouldn’t be harmful for human consumption because there aren’t any scientific studies proving the case.
Plant growth regulators are also known as ripening agents. Some of these agents have been identified to be harmful to human body while others are found to be safe.
“Strawberries that follow the normal growth cycle are not yet available in the market. They usually ripen in April,” Professor Luo said.
This is not the first time that food produced in China has been found to be tampered with. Shrimps have been found to be injected with gels—sometimes the gel are of the harmless, edible kind, while other times, industrial gel that might contain heavy metals are used. Vendors sell gel-injected shrimps because “more money could be extracted from adding to their weight,” said Mr. Zhang, a seafood merchant in Shandong Province.