Contaminated Chinese herb recalled

    The Department of Health (DH) today (June 20) instructed an importer-cum-wholesaler to recall a batch of Chinese herb called Rhizoma Atractylodis (»a¥º) following confirmation of a herbal poisoning case involving a 9-year-old boy.

     The patient developed symptoms including flushing, confusion, slurred speech, dry mouth shortly after taking a herbal formulation prescribed by a Chinese medicine practitioner and obtained from a herbal shop in Chai Wan on June 10.

     He was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on June 13 and has recovered.

     DH's investigation revealed that one of the herbs in the patient's prescription, known as Rhizoma Atractylodis (»a¥º), had been contaminated with harmful impurities. It was therefore believed that these impurities were the cause of intoxication.

     It was found that the herb was imported from the Mainland by Hip Shing Hong Medicine Limited which distributed the herb to local retailers.  The batch number of the herb concerned is 060608. Samples taken from the company and one of its retailers were tested and found to have the impurities.

     Rhizoma Atractylodis (»a¥º) is a commonly used herb and is not toxic.

     Chinese Medicine practitioners and traders are reminded to exercise caution in ensuring the quality of herbal medicines and be vigilant against contamination in the process of purchase, inspection, acceptance, distribution, storage and dispensation.

     They should also comply with the relevant requirements and procedures set out in the ¡§Practising Guidelines for Wholesalers of Chinese Herbal Medicines¡¨ and ¡§Practising Guidelines for Retailers of Chinese Herbal Medicines¡¨.

     Retailers who have purchased the herb from this wholesaler are advised to stop selling it and return it to the wholesaler, or submit it to the Pharmaceutical Service of DH at: 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon.

     Members of the public are advised to seek advice from their Chinese medicine practitioners when in doubt. They should stop taking the Chinese medicines and seek medical advice if they develop discomfort.

     Retailers of Chinese herbal medicines can call the Hip Shing Hong Medicine Limited at 9132 5728 for matters related to the recall.  

     A telephone enquiry service (Tel 2209 9445) will be operated by DH during office hours to answer public enquiries.

Ends/Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Issued at HKT 20:18