Wednesday, August 25, 2010


FSSAI should be happy that they have an exalted company in FDA of the US. There is a common belief that USA is a paragon of all virtues when it comes to food safety but if one looks at its past record American market sells many products with doubtful safety credentials. A classical example is the widespread presence of GM foods in the market with the consumer never being aware of it as there is no compulsory labeling requirement for declaration of the GM origin of the food products from the processing industry. Now comes the report that American market is a heaven for all types of products claiming unsubstantiated health benefits and some of these are even dangerous if consumed by humans. Here is a take on that.

"Working with experts from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent research group, we identified a group of ingredients (out of nearly 1,100 in the database) linked to serious adverse events by clinical research or case reports. To come up with our dozen finalists, we also considered factors such as whether the ingredients were effective for their purported uses and how readily available they were to consumers. We then shopped for them online and in stores near our Yonkers, N.Y., headquarters and easily found all of them for sale in June 2010. The dozen are aconite, bitter orange, chaparral, colloidal silver, coltsfoot, comfrey, country mallow, germanium, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, and yohimbe. The FDA has warned about at least eight of them, some as long ago as 1993. Why are they still for sale? Two national retailers we contacted about specific supplements said they carried them because the FDA has not banned them. The agency has "the authority to immediately remove them from the market, and we would follow the FDA recommendation," said a spokeswoman for the Vitamin Shoppe chain".

It is truly amazing as to how the regulatory agency chose to close its eyes to such uncontrolled marketing of unproven health supplements to the public. It is nothing but shirking of the responsibility and forfeiting the confidence of the public. The odd clause in the statute books that permits sale of those ingredients used prior to 1993, is allowing many "fly by night" operators to exploit the gullibility of the public who are constantly looking for food and edible substances that will improve their health. FDA has authority to ban sale of substances, if found injurious to the health of consumers but probably lacks courage to impose such bans for fear of litigation and prolonged deadlock. If new drugs require complex data to be generated before allowing them into the market, even the so called health boosting or protecting substances also should attract same treatment. If these products have originated from other countries, the onus should be on those countries to provide safety data to the approval agency in the US.


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