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February 27, 2012

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Growers held after safety scare over bean sprouts

GROWERS of tainted bean sprouts in Shanghai's Qingpu District have been detained, local authorities said yesterday.

Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said the bean sprouts found in unlicensed premises in the Xianghuaqiao residential community contained illegal additives.

Officials gave no further details of what kind of additives they were and it was not known whether they were toxic or added in excessive amounts.

All the contaminated bean sprouts have been destroyed and several suspects detained after local authorities acted on a tip-off from a resident.

Officials said that police were still investigating the case.

A thorough inspection is being launched into bean sprouts sold locally and efforts to crack down on illegal sales of bean sprouts and their production intensified.

The case is not the first one involving bean sprouts to have sparked a food safety scare in China.

Last year, nearly 2,000 kilograms of tainted bean sprouts were seized in Suzhou in Shanghai's neighboring Jiangsu Province.

Those bean sprouts were said to have been soaked in illegal solutions to make them look fresh. Banned chemicals were also used by growers to whiten the bean sprouts and increase their appeal to buyers.

Also last year, six people in northeast China's Liaoning Province were jailed for up to two years for producing and selling poisonous sprouts grown using a toxic fertilizer.

The six were found guilty of applying urea and enrofloxacin to bean sprouts to increase yields. Both chemicals are banned from use in agricultural in China.

Bean sprouts require no soil, only water and cool temperatures for growth, which makes them very easy to produce. A sprout emerges in two to seven days from the seed or bean, depending on the type.


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