The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said today it found high levels of mercury and arsenic, which pose a threat to consumer health, in two traditional Chinese medicines and one Auyurvedic product.
The Chinese products were found at a wholesaler in London. Called Fufang Lu Hui and Zhuifeng Tongu Wan, both contained very high levels of mercury.
The agency first became aware of Fufang Luhui Jiaonang in July 2004, when it warned consumers that it had been recalled from 35 outlets across the UK after being found to contain around 11 per cent mercury. The recent inspection found products containing 13 per cent.
Dr Linda Anderson from the MHRA said: "The toxic effects of mercuric salts such as those found in the products tested are well known. The levels found could initially cause nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache and lead to serious damage to the kidneys and the nervous system."
The MHRA also seized bottles of an Ayurvedic liquid called SAFI, the Blood Purifier, from a London Cash and Carry which were found to contain 57ppm of arsenic. All stocks of the liquid were removed from the shelves of the cash and carry and quarantined pending further investigation by the Agency.
Arsenic salts can cause severe nausea, vomiting, skin disorders, convulsions, anaemia, jaundice and paralysis.