A joint investigation conducted by the BBC’s Trust me, I’m a Doctor (Episode: Do herbal supplements contain what they say on the label?) and University College London (UK) has questioned quality control in the botanicals sector. Herbal products are available in various forms in the UK market: they can be sold as “traditional herbal medicines” or as “food supplements”. While the traditional herbal medicines are strictly controlled, food supplements are largely unregulated. Despite being perceived as natural and therefore safe, these products can have significant side-effects caused by contaminants, dose and interactions with foods and pharmaceuticals.
The composition of 70 traditional herbal medicines and food supplements were examined. Whilst every traditional herbal medicines contained the ingredients declared on the label, food supplements varied considerably; some products contain no active compound whilst others were of poor quality or contained other substances. The investigation concluded that whilst the food supplements sector is largely unregulated, traditional herbal medicines are much better controlled under relevant European legislation meaning the information provided to consumers is more accurate. For more information visit link BBC’s website here.
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Luca Bucchini, EU food law and botanicals expert, called for better EU regulation on the quality of botanicals, not only a revision of the food supplements Directive (FSD) as, “weak enforcement, not food supplement law, is the cause of the same problems, in the UK, in the US and across the EU” in an interview with NutraIngredients (16th July 2015).
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