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July 11, 2012

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Sprouts dunked in bleach confiscated

A LARGE underground workshop selling tainted bean sprouts in Minhang District was busted by local authorities yesterday with more than 500 kilograms of bean sprouts confiscated.

The bean sprouts produced at the workshop in Pujiang Town were found to have been contaminated with bleaching powder and an illegal growth agent to make them ripen sooner, authorities said.

The air of the workshop was humid and rotten and bags of bleaching powder were scattered around. Bean sprouts were dipped in a cloudy blue liquid with a bad smell in more than 10 big plastic buckets.

The tainted bean sprouts would have hit markets yesterday if not found, said an official who was at the scene. The house where the workshop is located will be dismantled because it is an illegal building, the official said. Samples of the sprouts will be checked further.

Experts said tainted bean sprouts tend to be crisp, bigger, watery and have no roots.

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. Bleaching powder can make bean sprouts look white and fresh and unfiltered river water is used by underground workshops during the process. Some vendors at wet markets in Minhang said it was not a secret that bleaching powder and growth agent were added to bean sprouts as it was a common practice to save money, the Shanghai Evening Post reported yesterday.

Bleaching powder and growth agent for bean sprouts are sold online. A seller registered at Changchun, Jilin Province, sells liquid to help bean sprouts grow faster and look better. Two milliliters is 80 yuan (US$12.90).


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