- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Six companies that the state officials say ignored warnings and repeatedly sold imported fruits and vegetables that contained illegal pesticide residues have been fined up to $20,000, authorities said Tuesday.

The Department of Pesticide Regulations said the companies based in Los Angeles and San Mateo counties imported the tainted produce from Thailand, Taiwan, China and Mexico and predominantly sold it to ethnic minorities.

The produce sold includes lychee, longan, burdock root, ginger, taro root, fragrant pear, cactus leaves, cactus pears, purslane and squash, the department said.

Since 2013, DPR has repeatedly found imported produce for sale in California that exceeds U.S. pesticide limits. This includes cactus pads, imported from Mexico and that were tainted with an organophosphate-based pesticide, which was banned by the U.S. EPA more than 30 years ago because of health concerns, the department said.

“They were given ample opportunities to change their methods but chose not to do so,” said Brian Leahy, DPR director.

The companies face fines ranging from $6,000 to more than $20,000 for violating pesticide laws and potentially endangering consumers.

The six companies are Top Quality Produce, Inc. based in La Puente, Yi Bao Produce Group and V&L; Produce, Inc. based in Vernon, Marquez Produce and La Sucursal, Inc. of Los Angeles and Primary Export International, based in South San Francisco, the department said.

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