The health ministry said Thursday it has removed import restrictions on frozen spinach from 27 plants in China after steps were taken by companies there to prevent pesticide residue in shipments.

Processors have taken three measures at the plants: shipping spinach from farmlands under their direct management, tracking the vegetables from harvesting to processing, and inspecting for pesticide residue during harvesting, processing and shipment.

In July 2002, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry asked importers to voluntarily stop buying frozen spinach from China after it detected too much chlorpyrifos in some shipments in March that year.

The instruction resulted in a virtual ban on frozen spinach imports from China.

The voluntary restriction was lifted in February 2003 on the grounds that an inspection system had been established in China.

The ministry repeated its warning to importers in May 2003 after pesticide residue was found again in spinach shipments.

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