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China admits fake caterpillar fungus

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A Tibetan vendor displays a pile of caterpillar fungus, a traditional Tibetan medicine, at Hehuachi Medicial Herb markets, Sichuan province China.
A man rests inside a tent after searching for caterpillar fungus, a traditional Tibetan medicine now popular globally, on the Laji mountains in China'...

A Tibetan vendor displays a pile of caterpillar fungus, a traditional Tibetan medicine, at Hehuachi Medicial Herb markets, Sichuan province China.

Fungi lures herders

A man rests inside a tent after searching for caterpillar fungus, a traditional Tibetan medicine now popular globally, on the Laji mountains in China'...

The food inspection body in Shanghai has admitted that many samples of an expensive but popular type of Chinese medicine known as caterpillar fungus have been replaced by fakes, the Chinese-language Liberty Times reported Tuesday.
The fungi, which grow out of dead caterpillars in the Himalayas and are known in Chinese as "winter worm, summer grass," are exported as Chinese medicine and fetch prices in Taiwan ranging from NT$200,000 to NT$600,000 per 600 g.
The fakes not only miss their medicinal function, but could even be poisonous, doctors warned.
A real caterpillar fungus has eight legs, a dark yellow or yellow-brown skin color, a fat body and rings on its back, while the accompanying vegetable part is dark brown to black, said traditional doctor Chuang Ya-huei.