They come in a tasty blend of sweet, sour and salty. They can also be deadly.
Yes, craving for that piece of dried sour plum can kill you, albeit slowly.
Many types of dried fruits imported from China, Taiwan and other Asian countries have been found to contain high levels of lead.
On Thursday, the Government restricted 18 important brands of dried fruits found to have lead content of between 0.11 and 30.3 parts per million (ppm) or milligram (mg)/kilogramme (kg).
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said only dried fruit products other than these brands would be allowed to be sold in the country.
"Under Regulation 38 of the Food Regulations 1985, the level of lead accepted is two parts per million. Action will be taken if the lead content exceeds the amount," he said.
Those who distribute food products deemed to be harmful to health can be charged under Section 13(1) of the Food Act 1983. They can also be fined up to RM100,000 or jailed up to maximum of 10 years or both if found guilty.
Liow said the ministry would ensure that the brands of banned dried fruit do not enter the country.
Lead is a metal that can be absorbed into the body over time.
Excess consumption, especially by the young, can lead to serious health problems, including delayed mental and physical development and learning deficiencies.
Lead also poses risks to pregnant women and infants.
Malaysia’s move to bar the 18 brands of dried fruits comes in the wake of last Friday’s move by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory against eating dried fruits imported from Asia.
Testing results in Texas found that dried plums and products containing dried plums contained lead as much as 300 times the acceptable level.
The FDA doe not have lead limits specifically for prunes, but the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has advised avoiding consumption of any amount of lead.
The warning, however, did not apply to prunes from the US.
Published Oct 9, 2009 http://dailychilli.com/news/267-tasty-but-deadly