The New Taipei Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration conducted joint inspections in Taishan and Wugu Districts this morning and discovered more than two tons of bleached bean sprouts at two facilities, UDN reported.
Between the two facilities, authorities found 2193.6 kilograms of bleached bean sprouts. The two factories did not have an official name.
It is estimated that 3.6 million kg of bean sprouts were sent to markets, with more than 2 million kg being bleached using diluted sodium dithionite or other sulfites.
The facilities admitted to bleaching bean sprouts for the last two years. Another person within the area admitted to bleaching bean sprouts for the past 12 years.
The Department of Health said most of the bean sprouts were sold to large restaurants in Taipei and retailers in the area. About 661-771 lbs. of the bean sprouts were sold in Taishan and Wugu Districts each day.
The department noted that healthy unbleached bean sprouts are naturally yellow or brown and that brighter bean sprouts are more suspicious.
The FDA said that each of the companies will be fined according to the law, which stipulates a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$3 million.
This sort of act has been discovered before in Taiwan, with a retailer in Taichung being caught in 2014 bleaching bean sprouts to make them appear whiter and healthier.
While in this case the bean sprouts were treated with a bleach solution that was not FDA approved, the bleaching process is common to help eliminate bacteria such as E. coli.