The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered a preventive recall of a popular dietary supplement product after receiving complaints that the product can cause diarrhea or constipation due to allegedly excessive levels of aloin.
Aloin is found in aloe leaves. Consuming large amounts causes digestive discomfort, such as diarrhea and vomiting, and it has been used as a laxative.
“The administration issued the order in the middle of last month, after a consumer lodged a complaint through our healthy food non-anticipated response notification system, saying they experienced constipation after using the product,” FDA Division of Food Safety senior specialist Wang Hui-ying (王惠英) told a news conference in Taipei yesterday morning.
Wang was referring to a weight-management product called L’amour (綠膳纖), a red capsule containing green tea and aloe vera abstracts that was the first capsule to be certified as a health food in Taiwan and which claims to aid in the reduction of body fat.
It is endorsed by renowned Taiwanese TV personality Momoko Tao (陶晶瑩) and more than 600,000 bottles have reportedly been sold since it entered the market in May.
Wang made the remarks in response to a report in yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily newspaper, which quoted a person surnamed Chang (張) as saying that he passed loose stool as many as six times a day during the six-day period he took L’amour.
Chang then sent the remaining capsules to a laboratory for testing in August, in which they were found to contain 20,500 parts per million (ppm) of aloin, the report said.
Two samples of the product tested by certification companies SGS Taiwan and TUV Rheinland Aimex Ltd’s Taiwanese division in October at the request of Apple Daily discovered aloin levels of about 17,000ppm — 1,700 times the level recommended by the International Aloe Science Council in products for oral consumption.
Wang said there is currently no law stipulating the maximum permissible level of aloin in food products, and manufacturers of such products are only required to print: “Not suitable for pregnant women” on the outer container.
“Nevertheless, the manufacturer of L’amour has been requested to submit documents proving that its product’s aloe vera extracts come from peeled aloe, because we have to be sure of the safety of the capsules,” Wang said.
“The sooner it complies with our request, the sooner its product would be allowed back onto shelves,” Wang added.
In response, L’amour spokesperson Lee Yi-yun (李依芸) told a separate press conference in Taipei yesterday that the aloin content of the product is “extremely low,” at 8mg per capsule, which is about the same level contained in a bottle of aloe vera juice.
“Our product absolutely does not have any safety concern,” Lee said.
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