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Roast snack seeds tainted with harmful dyes pulled off market
By Hu Min

AFTER an investigative media report found that green tea flavor snack seeds turned water green within 20 seconds due to a possibly harmful dye, Shanghai's market watchdog yesterday ordered retailers to stop selling some snack seeds from Anhui Province.

Seed samples are being tested and companies turning out goods that fail quality tests will be punished, officials of the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said yesterday.

A local consumer complained that his tongue turned green after eating snack seeds during the Spring Festival, according to a Shanghai Media Group TV news report. The report said water turned green when seeds with green tea flavor were dipped in it, the report said.

In Xuancheng City, Anhui Province, a major supplier of Shanghai's roasted seeds and nuts, reporters found toxic chemicals were widely added to roasted seeds and nuts, some in large amounts, the report said. Workers at both Shenxin Snack Seed Factory and Nanri Snack Seed Factory in Xuancheng said their products were dyed.

A manager of a local talc factory said a large number of snack seed producers bought industrial talc from it. The powder, containing carcinogenic substances, makes seeds look bright and smooth.

A sales manager of the Shanghai Fengchen Powdery Material Co Ltd said talc was commonly used in roasted seeds and nuts nationwide and no death was ever reported from eating snack seeds.

Additives like alums, used as a food preservative and in cosmetics and industrial processes, and sodium metabisulfite, a food preservative, are also commonly added into roasted seeds and nuts in excessive amounts that can harm health, the report said.

A local consumer, Shen Hui, said she would no longer eat snack seeds with red tea or green tea flavor after the report. "I like green tea snack seeds, but I will not eat them any more," she said.

Qiaqia product had most mildew

QIAQIA, a famous roasted seeds and nuts brand, has come under fire again after nearly 20 percent of its snack seeds were found either mildewed or decayed.

Qiaqia had the most bad seeds among eight brands, tests of samples by a food safety-related website showed. Mildewed seeds contain aflatoxin, which can lead to liver cancer in large amounts, experts said.

In December, an undercover probe alleged that Qiaqia allowed unhygienic conditions and altered production dates in workshops making roasted seeds and nuts.

Workers in Qiaqia Food Co were found to process seeds and nuts without wearing disposable gloves and gauze masks, City Sun newspaper reported.

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