Wednesday 24 January 2018

China’s Crackdown on Tainted Bean Sprouts

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a guest blog post on the China Law Blog describing the impact. The impact I suggested in that post was increased crackdowns on tainted products. Yesterday evidence of increased crackdowns came from a bean sprout bust.

The Legal Daily newspaper said in an online report that police in Shenyang had seized 40 tons of bean sprouts treated with the chemical compounds sodium nitrite and urea, as well as antibiotics and a plant hormone called 6-benzyladenine. Police arrested 12 people in connection with the seizure from six distribution centres and other locations around the city over three days last week. The newspaper estimated the seizure to amount to nearly one-third of all the bean sprouts in the city’s markets. (Sodium nitrite hinders bacteria growth in food but can be toxic for humans and is carcinogenic. The plant hormone that was used is also banned as a food additive).

The newspaper explained Shenyang’s problem with “poison bean sprouts” has been going on for years, and was even the subject of a local media report three years ago, but authorities failed to crack down at that time.

After three years of turning a blind eye, it’s curious what motivation pushed the Chinese government to act now. The motivation may be increased scrutiny from weary consumers and the threat of FDA inspections.

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