Sunday, August 15, 2010


It is not clear as to why Indian government needs to be informed by the US about the presence of steroid containing food products in the Indian market because the Food Standards and Safety Authority in the country is supposed to be monitoring the marker to prevent fraudulent products with doubtful safety credentials being promoted. If such cooperation is based on institutional arrangement, it bodes well for the country. There are hundreds of companies promoting their products through the Internet with doubtful health claims and since any Indian buyer can order these products using their credit cards, there is very little GOI can do to prevent such transactions. But entry of these products into the country can be regulated by more stringent monitoring of courier agencies, postal department and imports at regulated ports.

" The US food and drug regulatory organisation has warned India about the possibility of some products containing steroids entering the Indian markets as dietary supplements, a health official said on Monday. In a communique to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, the Food and Drug Administration said these products were recalled in the US as some of these were marketed without an approval from the department and most were marketed as "dietary supplement". "The products were found to contain steroid or steroid-like substances making them unapproved new drug. Most of these products were distributed through Internet rather than through a distributor network," said a statement from the health ministry. According to the health ministry, steroid containing products present a risk of acute liver injury to product users. In addition, steroids may cause other serious long-term adverse health consequences, including male infertility, masculinisation of women, breast enlargement in males, short stature in children, adverse effects on blood lipid profile and increased risk of heart attack and death".

Possibility of setting up a portal by the FSSAI for receiving enquiries from consumers who wish to buy such products with exalted health claims can be explored. But for such a thing to happen, the safety agency needs a pro-active consumer protection policy which exists to day only on paper. What is confusing bout the above report is that FSSAI is talking about drugs for which it has no jurisdictional authority and no food products have been identified that contain steroids so far. Nonetheless the information passed on by the FDA of USA must be disseminated as widely as possible for preventing people patronizing such products of doubtful credentials.

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