jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2014
Bean sprouts tainted with banned additive are again found in China
The additive enhanced the appearance and shortened the growing cycle of the bean sprouts, driving up profits.
The additive enhanced the appearance and shortened the growing cycle of the bean sprouts, driving up profits. Bean sprouts are back in the news for all the wrong reasons. Not for the first time, Chinese inspectors have found bean sprouts tainted with a banned food additive, in this instance in a production center on the southern outskirts of Beijing.
The sprouts being produced at the site in Daxing district were treated with high levels of 6-benzyladenine, a plant hormone, to speed up the growth cycle and make them more attractive to buyers, The Beijing News reported this week. But the chemical can also harm consumers’ health, it said, causing premature puberty, disrupting menstrual cycles and contributing to osteoporosis.
Up to 20 tons of sprouts a day were sold to wholesale dealers in Beijing and in Hebei and Shandong Provinces, the newspaper said. Since the Beijing food and drug authorities conducted their spot check on Nov. 2, the Daxing site has been shut down and three associated vendors have been ordered to halt operations. The case remains under investigation, but no arrests have been reported.
Bean sprouts are a popular staple in China, commonly seen in food stalls, supermarkets and restaurants. But they have also been caught up in food safety scares. In 2011, the discovery of sprouts drenched in hormones, bleaching powder and preservatives in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, resulted in the arrests of 12 people. Last year, the Beijing municipal government issued a health advisory with tips to the public on how to detect unsafe bean sprouts.
The Beijing bean sprout industry, which produces about 300 tons a day, is dominated by small workshops and family businesses, many of which operate in an unsanitary environment, The Beijing News said. Government oversight has also suffered at times from confusion over whether bean sprouts are “agricultural produce,” since they are not grown in the ground. In August, the Beijing government circulated draft regulations to tighten supervision over the production of bean sprouts. The regulations will take effect on Jan. 1, and they will require all sprout-producing sites to have a government license.