Contaminated Ginseng Still On Market

July 1, 2000

2 Min Read
Contaminated Ginseng Still On Market


Contaminated Ginseng Still On Market

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--In its recent Ginseng Product Review, ConsumerLab.com found that eight brands of dietary supplements with Korean ginseng contained high levels ofpesticides, and some also had high levels of lead. Three of the eight contaminated products did not meet their label claims for ginseng content, as did five other tested ginseng products.

Seventeen of the products were Asian (labeled asPanax, Asian, Chinese or Korean ginseng), four were American and one was a mixture. They were tested according to the methodsset by the American Botanical Council's (ABC) Ginseng Evaluation Program for levels of ginsenosides and for potential contamination with heavy metals and several carcinogenicpesticides/fungicides. Manufacturers of the nine products that did pass all three tests included Celestial Seasonings, Hsu's, Nature Made and Bayer. ConsumerLab.com does not release the names of brands that did not pass.

In 1998, tests by PharmaPrint showed residues of the fungicide quintozene onginseng root. At that point, industry members met with representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); government officials did not think the residue posed a health concern so a recall was unnecessary, according to StevenDentali, Ph.D., who worked with the group. As of January 1999, industry members agreed that the ginseng assay would allow for noquintozene. "This has been a good example of cooperation between industry and government, and the issue ConsumerLab.com brings up has already been addressed," said Wayne Silverman withthe American Botanical Council (ABC). He speculated that products that failed the ConsumerLab.com test were on the market prior to January 1999 and not subject to the new industry quality control. "The bottom line is that these were likely older products in a rapidly changing marketplace, and a lot has been done to handle both these issues."

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