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March 30, 2012

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Lead in supplements investigated

THE state food authority is investigating a report about the detection of high levels of lead in certain brands of dietary supplement made of spirulina, officials from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.

The report, based on a Xinhua journalist's investigation, said the State Food and Drug Administration has ordered a recall of the six brands of supplement made of spirulina.

"We contacted the state FDA ... and said the testing method used by facilities hired by journalists for heavy metal checks may be not correct," said Qi Liubin of the Shanghai FDA yesterday. "We launched heavy metal checks on spirulina products in Shanghai ... and never detected such high levels of lead contamination."

But he admitted there may be some loopholes.

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Ads promote it for functions such as enhancing immunity, fighting radiation and for weight loss.

The Xinhua report said excessive lead was detected in six of the eight brands on the market. Conthealthy, a US brand, was 820 percent over the standard.

The report showed that the producers used inferior spirulina powder as the raw material. Some agencies also helped the manufacturers obtain official permits for their unqualified products. They even fabricated samples and bribed drug inspectors, the report said.

Tong Min, a State Food and Drug Administration official, said these agencies will be blacklisted, the report said.

None of the six brands named by the report were manufactured in Shanghai, but some are sold in the city. Local markets took quick action on the report yesterday.

Spirulina tablet products under the six brands, including Green-A and By-Health, were ordered off shelves at, and other e-commerce platforms. Some drug stores also began taking the product off their shelves.


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