A new scheme is under way on the mainland to label consignments of vegetables destined for Hong Kong and ease growing fears over contaminated produce. As part of the voluntary scheme in Guangdong, any farm exporting vegetables to Hong Kong will be rated on their use of pesticides. Track records will also be taken into account. Vegetables produced from farms obtaining a first-class rating will be exempted from sample tests, said the Shenzhen Import/Export Commodities Inspection Bureau. For second-class farms, half of their exported vegetables will be analysed, while all the vegetables from third-class farms will be tested. The move follows a spate of food poisoning cases recorded in Hong Kong last month. At present, about 40 per cent of vegetables consumed in Hong Kong come from Shenzhen and Dongguan, where contaminated vegetables are regularly found. Farmers often use excessive pesticide not only to kill disease but make produce look greener and healthier. Hong Kong Department of Health figures showed six people were affected by poisoned vegetables up to March this year. Last year, there were 45 people, while the figure for 1994 was 141. The Nongyi Farm, in Tonghu, Huizhou, has been nominated by officials as the first first-class farm in Guangdong. The 1,000-hectare farm exports up to 10 tonnes of flowering cabbage, white cabbage, and flowering kale to Hong Kong markets each day. Farm owner Yeung Bik-shan, a Hong Kong farmer who moved to grow vegetables on the mainland in 1984, said: 'To ease Hong Kong people's mind, the pesticide used here is imported from Hong Kong. 'We also record the number of times and on which field we have applied pesticide. The use of pesticide on vegetables to be harvested within 10 days is banned.'