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Recall of Chinese herbal medicine contaminated by solanaceous alkaloids

     The Department of Health (DH) today (June 5) instructed a licensed Chinese herbal medicines wholesaler, Peace & Hope Medicine Company Limited, located at Room 701, 7/F, Western Centre, 40-50 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan, to recall from consumers its marketed Chinese herbal medicine Rhizoma Atractylodis, as it was found to be contaminated by solanaceous alkaloids.
     "The recall follows the investigation of a case of solanaceous alkaloid poisoning announced by the DH on May 31. Some herbal samples were obtained for chemical analysis during the investigation at a licensed Chinese herbal medicines retailer in Discovery Bay. Results from the Government Laboratory today confirmed that samples from one batch of Rhizoma Atractylodis (batch no.: 20120920) and one unknown batch contained solanaceous alkaloids, while results for other herbal samples were negative," a DH spokesman said.
     "While the DH's investigation is ongoing, upstream tracking thus far has revealed that the Rhizoma Atractylodis concerned was imported by Peace & Hope from the Mainland for wholesale in Hong Kong. As a precautionary measure, the DH has instructed Peace & Hope to recall all batches of Rhizoma Atractylodis from the market. The Chinese medicine practitioners and Chinese medicine traders affected by this recall are listed in the Attachment (Chinese only). A hotline at 3427 3501 has been set up by Peace & Hope for related enquiries," the spokesman added.
     Meanwhile, the DH is monitoring the recall closely and will refer the findings to the Mainland's relevant authority for necessary follow-up.
     "Up to now, no other adverse report in relation to the affected herbs has been received by the DH," the spokesman remarked.

     Rhizoma Atractylodis is a commonly used herb for the removal of dampness and invigorating the function of the spleen. It should not contain solanaceous alkaloids.

     Solanaceous alkaloids cause anticholinergic symptoms like blurred vision, dry mouth, dizziness and confusion. They can lead to death in severe cases.

     "According to Section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), selling any food or drug intended for use by man but unfit for that purpose is liable to a maximum penalty of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment. On completion of investigation, the DH will work with the Department of Justice for prosecution matters," the spokesman remarked.
     "Health-care professionals who have the affected herbs in hand should surrender them to the Chinese Medicine Division of the DH at 16/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, during office hours for disposal or return them to the supplier. Moreover, members of the public who have been given or have purchased the affected herbs should stop using them immediately and consult their health-care providers if feeling unwell," the spokesman added.

Ends/Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Issued at HKT 17:49


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