Arsenic in wild ‘organic’ Cordyceps sinensis products

The highly prized ‘caterpillar fungus’ has been declared a danger to health by China’s FDA
Alice Yan – South China Morning Post – Feb. 5, 2016

Products derived from Ophiocordyceps sinensis from Tibet were found to contain up to 10 times the national limit of arsenic, officials say.

Ophiocordyceps sinensis, or the caterpillar fungus, is one of the most sought-after and expensive ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine.
It has been deemed a danger to human health by China’s main food and drug regulator, mainland media report.

A recent examination by the State Food and Drug Administration showed that products derived from the fungus, such as powders and tablets, contain excessive arsenic, reports. The national standard limit for the toxic chemical is 1 milligram per kilogram, but the level found in the supplements ranged from 4.4-9.9 mg pr kg, so up to 10 times higher.

Consuming the products over a long period will increase the risk of the element, a common poison, accumulating in the body, the State Authority said. Cordyceps are the fruiting bodies formed after the fungus parasitises the larvae of ghost moths found in mountainous regions of Tibet and Nepal.

They make expensive gifts, often given to old people, and are believed to strengthen a person’s immune system and restrain the development of cancer cells.