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August 8, 2012

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5 sold 1.8m yuan of tainted bean sprouts

FIVE people accused of producing and selling tainted bean sprouts worth nearly 1.8 million yuan (US$282,548) in the city's suburban Qingpu District were charged with selling inferior products, local prosecutors said yesterday.

The suspects, whose names, ages and genders were not given, were said to grow soybean sprouts and mung bean sprouts in a rented green house in Xianghuaqiao residential community and sell them to local agricultural markets.

The tainted sprouts were found to contain illegal additives and growth regulators including sodium parachlorophenoxy and 6-Benzylaminopurine, prosecutors said.

Both chemicals have been banned from use in agricultural in China since last November. They are widely known as growth regulators and are used by growers to shorten the sprouts' production cycle and increase yields.

It normally takes seven days for bean sprouts to ripen, but a growth agent can shorten the time to three days and double the production, experts said.

Long-term consumption of tainted sprouts would definitely harm people's health, prosecutors warned.

Local authorities busted the illegal workshop and detained growers after receiving a tip from a resident in February. The anonymous informant earned a 50,000 yuan reward, the largest sum ever paid for a food scandal tip in the city, according to the Shanghai Food Safety Office.

All the contaminated bean sprouts have been destroyed but officials did not say how much was seized. The five suspects are to face trial soon, prosecutors said.

After the tainted bean sprout scandal was exposed, a thorough inspection was launched into bean sprouts sold locally and efforts were made to crack down on illegal sales of bean sprouts and their production across the city.

Last month, local authorities busted a large underground workshop selling tainted bean sprouts in Minhang District and confiscated more than 500 kilograms of bean sprouts.

Sprouts produced at a workshop in Pujiang Town were found to have been contaminated with bleach powder and an illegal growth agent to make them ripen sooner.

Shanghai is offering rewards from 500 yuan (US$78.50) to 200,000 yuan for information on food contamination.


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