Kava regains shelf space in Wales

Related tags European union Wales

Health food stores and kava suppliers are celebrating a recent
decision by the Welsh government to revoke legislation that banned
the herb in the UK last year.

The kava industry is hoping to see other UK regions follow the move by the Wales National Assembly, which came into effect from the end of October, and will allow kava to go back on sale to consumers.

Kava was banned in the UK in December last year because it had been linked to cases of liver damage. It is also banned in several other European countries including Switzerland, Germany and France, as well as South Africa.

But in an attempt to fight the ban, which caused severe damage to the kava industry and the livelihood of suppliers in the Pacific islands, campaigners produced a report on the safety of the herb, taken to reduce stress and depression and to beat insomnia. The report by Berlin-based Phytopharm Consulting concluded that kava can be regarded as a safe and effective herbal medicinal product. It also found the measures taken by European health authorities to be inappropriate and unjustified.

The decision in Wales is the result of a court case brought by the UK's National Association of Health Food Stores against the UKGovernment. The NAHS, an organisation of 400 members, is also fighting the recent EU food supplement directive.

Dr Joerg Gruenwald, executive director of the International Kava Executive Committee (IKEC) said it is expected that the other UK regions will follow in the same way. Holland & Barrett, the UK's largest health store retailer, sold nearly 200,000 units of products containing kava in 2001, according to NAHS, while the annual UK market products containing the herb is estimated to have been worth up to £7.5 million.

The campaigners have submitted the safety assessment​ of the herbal to WHO and the EU member states and is currently preparinga broad information campaign to raise media attention of kava.

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