The Daily Telegraph reported Friday, citing Chinese state media, that despite the presence of maggots in mandarin oranges on Chinese farms as early as September, government officials allegedly did not publicly confirm the outbreak until after the story leaked.
The government allegedly even downplayed and denied reports of maggot-infested oranges prior to the Oct. 4 news leak, the Telegraph said.
Tens of thousands of oranges have already destroyed in an attempt to contain the outbreak, but Chinese officials have not released the full financial cost of the lost orange crop.
The Telegraph said a neighboring province to Sichuan province, where the outbreak occurred, has estimated the cost at nearly $219 million through loss of consumer confidence.
The orange crisis comes as China is struggling to recover from a tainted milk scandal that sickened 50,000 children, causing the deaths of at least four.