BEIJING (AP) -- China's food exports to Japan, a key market, plunged 30 percent in February, hurt by a scare over poisoned Chinese-made dumplings, according to data reported Friday.
Japan is the third-largest market for Chinese exporters of fish, dumplings and other processed food, and the drop in sales is a severe blow to the fast-growing industry.
China's food exports to Japan in February totaled 186,000 tons, down 30 percent from the same month in 2007, the General Administration of Customs reported.
Exports from Shandong, the eastern province that is the base for food processors serving Japan, fell 60 percent, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
''Influenced by such things as the 'poisoned dumpling incident,' our country's food exports to Japan fell one after the other,'' said a customs agency statement.
Chinese-made dumplings were pulled from Japanese supermarkets in December after traces of a banned insecticide were found in the dumplings and in the vomit of people who fell ill after eating them.
According to Japan's Finance Ministry, food imports from China declined 28 percent in February and 32.4 percent in March. Among the hardest hit items were grains, vegetables, fruits and processed foods.
Finance Ministry official Hidetoshi Akinaga said the results reflected the food scare triggered by the tainted dumplings earlier this year.
''The trend apparently took a dive after the dumpling scare,'' he said.
The incident set back China's effort to shore up confidence in its product safety after a string of warnings and recalls abroad.
Chinese authorities say their investigation has found the poisoning probably was an isolated, deliberate case. They say there is little chance it happened in China and have accused Japanese police of failing to cooperate with them.
China's global food exports rose 6.8 percent in January and February from the same two-month period last year, the customs agency reported. It gave no one-month figure for February.
Beijing often reports economic data for January and February as one period. The Lunar New Year, which causes a lull in business, falls at varying times during those two months in different years, making one-month comparisons difficult.