Poison found in Chinese medicine
By Richard Evans, South London Press
ARSENIC and mercury have been found in samples of Chinese medicine
in south London.
The life-threatening discoveries were made by Lambeth trading standards
officers during routine sampling of Chinese health products.
Robert Gardner, a trading standards officer, said: "Arsenic
and mercury can accumulate in the body over time and can produce
poisoning, so it can be fatal. They could also cause birth defects."
Officers also found powdered rhino horns; Aristolochia, which damages
the kidneys; and actinolite, a mineral form of asbestos.
Another of the products was said to be a low sugar substitute containing
lo han kuo extract. It was claimed that 95 per cent of the product
was lo han kuo and five per cent sugar. But investigators found
there was actually 90 per cent sugar, and only 10 per cent herb.
There are concerns about the potential effects for people on restricted
diets, such as diabetics.
Officers also discovered health teas which claimed to aid slimming,
but testing produced no evidence that they worked.
Trading standards is now investigating the supply chain for these
goods so their importation can be halted pending further investigations.
Officers have also acted to halt the supply of herbal remedies
which sup-pliers claim have cancer-curing properties.
Unless medical proof exists, claims cannot be made about a product's
Mr Gardner said: "It is difficult to detect, because everything
is in Chinese and the people who prepare the products have a very
limited command of English.
"My advice would be to go to your GP and ask them to confirm
the product is the type that would help your condition.
"Some people believe in herbal medicine but there is very
"In Boots, you can be pretty certain they will be okay. But
when you go to these Chinese places, you are dealing with unlabelled
products given in plastic bags.
He added: "You do not know what level of supervision over
production there is."