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    "Muddy" Pepper Sold in China

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    NTDTelevision

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    A merchant in southern China has ignited a public debate over food standards in the country. Last week, state-run media reported fake peppercorns were being sold in Guangdong province. The peppercorns appeared fragile, and would dissolve in water. Upon closer inspection, a shopper discovered the peppercorns were made of mud.

    When a reporter asked a merchant about this, the merchant said, “This isn’t poisonous. No one would die from eating it. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

    A flurry of online comments followed. Many satirically hailed the merchant as “ethical” because she was kind enough not to sell food that would kill people.

    Other, more sobering comments said such behavior indicates a new low for China’s food standards. A spate of toxic food has been discovered in recent years, many—like recycled sewer oil and clenbuterol in pork are highly dangerous to consumers.