A 14-year old girl in China was admitted to Zhejiang Zhuji City People’s Hospital after experiencing constipation and abdominal pain for several days, as well as swelling in her stomach.
According to Chinese news outlet The Paper, the scan of the girl’s body then revealed hundreds of small, circular objects that filled much of her organs, from her stomach to her colon and her anus.
Doctors deduced that the shadows were actually around a hundred undigested tapioca pearls from bubble tea she had consumed.
Doctor Zhang Lou Wei asked the teenager about her dietary habits, she admitted that she drank bubble tea 5 days ago.
However, Zhang suspects that it may have been pearls that were accumulated from regular intake of the beverage over a period of time. Zhang then prescribed laxative pills.
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Given that some manufacturers also add additives and thickeners to the pearls to make them chewier, pearls consumed in big quantities could possibly harm the body’s gastrointestinal function.
It is unclear if tapioca pearl is fully to blame for this girl’s ordeal.
In 2015, regional broadcaster Shandong Television reveals some of the fake pearls may contain leather shoe soles and used tyres. Undercover interviews with milk tea shop managers and one of them admited “they’re all made at chemical plants. To put it bluntly, they’re made from the soles of leather shoes and old tyres.”