Popular herbal remedy drinks Paolyta B (保力達B) and Sanyo Whisbih (維士比) are alcoholic beverages categorized as a non-prescription medication and are prohibited from being sold at convenience stores, betel nut stands or other business establishments without a drug company license, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday.
“The administration and local health departments inspected a total of 105 betel nut stands in Taipei City, Greater Taichung and Greater Kaohsiung last month, of which 14 were found illegally selling the herbal liquors without a permit,” FDA Northern Center section head Wu Ming-mei (吳明美) told a press conference in Taipei yesterday morning.
However, the national retailer violation rate concerning alcoholic herbal beverages sales dropped from 38 percent in a March inspection to 13 percent in the inspection conducted last month, Wu said.
The significant decrease indicates that the administration’s frequent impromptu inspections have helped deter such irregularities, which is punishable by a fine ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 as stipulated in Article 92 of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法), she added.
Wu said the herbal beverages are often consumed by construction site workers before or during work because they are believed to be effective in relieving fatigue.
“However, as such drinks contain an alcohol content of about 9 or 10 percent, which could impede the workers’ concentration during work, most of which involves operating heavy construction equipment, it therefore puts their safety at risk,” Wu said.
There have also been multiple cases in which blue-collar workers have been sentenced to several months in prison for driving under the influence after drinking the herbal drinks, she said.
“Consumers are advised to drink the herbal liquors no more than three times a day and less than 40 mililiters each time,” Wu said.
“Long-term or overconsumption of the alcohol-laced beverages would have the same detrimental effect on the liver as any other alcoholic drinks would,” Wu said.