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Human Flesh Supplements

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by Sandy Almendarez -

I expect things to get spooky this time of year with haunted houses and strangers coming to my door demanding sugar, but supplements made of human flesh? I couldn't have imagined that.

A recent article from The Korea Times said Chinese police arrested a pair of students (aged 26 and 21) who sold weight-loss "supplements" laced with human remains. The two allegedly smuggled 3,000 diet pills and 500 detox pills from China into South Korea, and containing human flesh.

The Korea Times reported 80 customers bought the pills, creating a 300-percent profit for the students. I can't image human flesh is a cheap filler or a beneficial excipient, so I'm guessing the customers were aware of the human ingredient; perhaps it was a selling point.

Along with human flesh, the pills also allegedly contained the sibutramine and phenolphthalein. We're familiar with both those ingredients in the United States. Sibutramine is a banned weight-loss drug that can lead to heart problems, and phenolphthalein is a cancer-causing chemical not approved for marketing in the United States. Both substances are also banned in South Korea.

Sadly—and creepily—this isn't the first case of human flesh pills in Korea. In May 2012, The Daily Mail reported more than 17,000 such pills were smuggled into South Korea during the previous nine months. The stomach-churning article describes illegal Chinese operations that take child corpses, dry them, create powder and market them as miracle cures.

And just this week the Yonhap News Agency said the South Korean government has not been able to stop the smuggling of pills made with human baby flesh, despite increased efforts during the past few years. The pills, marketed for stamina, contain harmful bacteria along with the flesh, according to the article.

The Korea Customs Service (KCS) uncovered 94 attempts—totaling about 43,600 pills—to illegally bring in human flesh capsules from August 2011 to August 2012, Yonhap News Agency reported.

While it disturbs me that adulterated products are still found in the U.S. market, so far, I don't think the U.S. FDA has encouraged a recall due to human flesh. This Halloween, I'm going to start my thanksgiving early; supplement adulteration could be a whole lot scarier.

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