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Kava kava set to be outlawed

26-Jul-2002

Global action against the kava kava herb continues with both the UK and Singapore taking further steps to remove the herb from sale.

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) is pushing for legislation that would result in the removal from sale and a ban on imports of all food products containing or consisting of kava kava. It is currently seeking views on draft regulations.

The move comes following recent evidence that products containing kava kava may have a toxic effect on the liver. Scientific data on the popular stress-reliever has been compiled by the Committee on the Safety of Medicines (CSM) since December 2001, when the alarm was raised in Germany. At the same time, the FSA issued advice to British consumers to avoid foods containing kava kava and supported a voluntary withdrawal of such foods from sale.

Following a review of the data, the UK's Medicines Control Agency (MCA) is now considering a proposed ban on the product in medicines. Their consultation on the proposed ban will last until 27 September, but in the meantime it has warned consumers to avoid taking kava kava.

A Food Hazard Warning was also issued to local authorities by the Agency last week. The agency asked relevant food businesses to withdraw any remaining kava kava food products from the market.

Meanwhile in Singapore, kava kava has been classified as a poison, according to the Straits Times. Although there have been no reports linking the herb to problems in Singapore, it appears that the government has reacted to evidence from Europe.

While not widely used in the region, authorities have ensured that the product is removed from sale and anyone found importing or selling the herb now faces a fine of up to $10,000 or a two-year jail sentence.