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SOS Rhino : In the News : Poison found in Chinese medicine

Poison found in Chinese medicine


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 therapeutic effects.

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 little control.

"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."

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