7 Apr 2014

Chemical residue fears behind American Samoa farm shut down

6:47 am on 7 April 2014

Concerns that Asian food growers in American Samoa were using chemicals on vegetables destined for the School Lunch Program has led to the Department of Health shutting down four operators.

The department says they found farm workers living in deplorable conditions, with inadequate sanitation, while discarded pesticide containers were lying around the properties.

The department's chief compliance officer Papali'i Marion Fitisemanu says all four farms are owned by Asians and have been cut as suppliers to the Program.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, says she thinks this is first time such action has been taken.

"But there have been a lot of concerns expressed especially from the lawmakers, that the condition of vegetables from farms, especially Asian owned, a suspicion that they are using chemicals and I think as a result of that they have had these farms under scrutiny more so than others."

Monica Miller says two of the farms have since been allowed to return to selling on the open market but not to the School Lunch Program.