Qinghai Spring Medical Resources Technology Co., a China-based manufacturer of herbal supplements containing prized caterpillar fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat everything from cancer to erectile dysfunction, was ordered to cease sales and recall its products after food and drug regulators found the products contained four to seven times more arsenic than allowed by law.
Food and drug safety standards allow only one milligram of arsenic per kilogram, but the levels found in Qinghai Spring’s caterpillar fungus was as much as 10 times as high. Consuming products with arsenic over a long period of time could lead to cancer and other health problems, according to the World Health Organization.
The caterpillar fungus is a most sought-after and expensive ingredient and sells for between $500 and $1,300 an ounce in New York City’s Chinatown. Capsules made of powdered caterpillar fungus and wheat are available for purchase online and sell for about 12-60 U.S. dollars. Qinghai Spring says its products were made with scraps of caterpillar fungus, which sell for about 7 U.S. dollars per gram, rather than intact stems.
The fungus, known by the Tibetan term yartsa gunbu, grows like a mushroom from the carcass of a caterpillar. It is known throughout Asia for its health benefits though no clinical studies have been performed to prove those claims.
Source: Caixin Online