Ministry denies burying safety study on edible fungi

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 23, 2013 - Page 1

The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday denied concealing the results of a research study on Antrodia camphorata — an edible species of fungi — after local media said the study found harmful side-effects in laboratory mice.

The ministry said it has already sent a report to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Department of Health last month regarding the results of the research.

The FDA yesterday said it has begun collecting related data and research results after receiving a complete report from the ministry’s Development Center for Biotechnology last month.

The FDA said the report showed the adrenal glands of female mice became swollen after ingesting large amounts of Antrodia camphorata during the trial. In addition, research results showed that consuming varying amounts of the fungus led to different effects in mice.

The FDA said it would ask experts to review the biotech center’s results and to provide a subsequent analysis.

“We will adopt any necessary regulatory measures if we discover any negative implications for human health resulting from the research report,” the FDA said in a statement.

The two agencies’ remarks came after the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that laboratory mice became ill and their cells mutated after ingesting Antrodia cinnamomea powder during a 91-day trial.

The report said the ministry had spent NT$130 million (US$4.36 million) since 2010 on a project aimed at developing Antrodia camphorata products and the biotech center later commissioned a local biotech company to conduct the tests to examine the effectiveness of those products.

The newspaper said both the biotech center and the FDA already knew the results back in February last year, and accused them of trying to hide the facts from the public for more than a year.

Meanwhile, the ministry yesterday clarified that it spent NT$44.89 million on the project, not NT$130 million, and said the project was involved in developing new drugs for the treatment of cancer.

Separately, Grape King Inc (葡萄王), a local health food vendor known for its “Come Best” tonic drink and “Granoderma King” nutritional supplement, said yesterday its Antrodia camphorata products meet the government’s standards for product safety.

The company, whose shares fell by the daily limit to NT$105 yesterday on the local bourse, said consumers should not panic about the company’s products, which it said contain no poisonous substances.