FSA debates kava

Related tags Herb

The UK Food Standards Agency is to conduct a consultation on
amendments to the current rules on the herbal kava kava in England.

Under the spotlight is the draft kava-kava in Food (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 which would amend regulation 3 of the Kava-kava in Food (England) Regulations 2002 SI 2002/3169 (the original Regulations).

Kava was banned in the UK in December 2002 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.

According to the FSA, in the judicial review of the Kava-kava in Food (England) Regulations 2002 and the Medicines for Human Use (Kava-kava) (Prohibition) Order 2002 one of the claimant's grounds for 'relief' was that, unlike the order, the regulations failed to include an exemption for goods in transit between one EEA (European Economic Area) State and another.

The FSA said in a statement this week that it is keen to seek views on whether the regulations should be amended to provide an exception to the prohibition in respect of items in transit between one EEA state and another.

In 2003, 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.

Causing celebration for health food shops and kava suppliers, in November last year the Welsh government revoked the UK kava ban legislation, owing to issues concerning the regulation. The kava industry is hoping to see other UK regions follow the move and allow kava to go back on sale to consumers. The WHO is currently considering the status of the herb.

Comments on amendments to the kava legislation should be sent to Akki Khan at the Food Standards Agency​ by 9 February 2004.

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