Denmark widens warning on weight loss herbal linked to brain haemorrhage

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Danish authority continues to search internet for websites marketing the unauthorised herbal Acacia rigidula
Danish authority continues to search internet for websites marketing the unauthorised herbal Acacia rigidula

Related tags Novel food Food standards agency Food safety

The Danish food safety authority has issued a second warning on the illegal herbal weight loss ingredient Acacia rigidula – which contains substances implicated in a brain haemorrhage case in Sweden.

Earlier this month the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Foedevarestyrelsen, warned consumers against the use of dietary supplement 7 Phenylstack after a risk assessment revealed the herbal it used contained the same naturally occurring amphetamine-like substances implicated in a medical report on the brain haemorrhage​ of an apparently healthy woman who had consumed the pre-workout supplement ‘Jacked Power’.

Now the Danish authority has reiterated its warning on the herbal itself, stating the ingredient was found on sale on several international websites.

The Danish National Food Institute (DTU) risk assessment upon which its warnings were based suggested the plant may cause adverse effects for the reproductive and movement systems, while its naturally occurring amphetamine-like substances - β-phenyl-ethyl-amine (β-PEA) and its derivative N, N-di-methyl-phenyl-ethyl-amine (N, N-DMPEA) - may cause high blood pressure and in the worst case bleeding in the brain.

Tracking sources

Speaking with NutraIngredients, Sofie Søe, an officer for the Danish authority’s special task force for food supplements that initially detected the sale on a website that appeared to be registered to Sweden, said: We have heard from the Swedish Authority and the product 7 Phenylstack is no longer available on the site”

On Monday she said the team were continuing to search sites marketing this product and others which may contain the herbal and related substances to consumers in Denmark.  

Elsewhere, the product could be seen on sale on a website which appears to be registered to New York, with a returns address listed in the UK.

“Concerning the website, it is a foreign website where marketing is not intended for Danish consumers. Thus, this page is not subject to our control,” ​Søe said.

What’s its novel food status?

Acacia rigidula​ is not authorised as a novel food in the European Union. In October 2013 the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) responded​ to an initial request for novel food approval ​by saying it had no evidence of a history of consumption of ingredients obtained from the herbal anywhere in the EU before May 1997 and invited stakeholders to submit proof of this.

In a second letter dated March this year the agency said that a small number of interested parties had submitted information, but these documents had not been able to demonstrate a history of significant use safe or otherwise.

Therefore, according to the requirements of the novel food Regulation (EC) 258/97, Acacia rigidula​ would need to be evaluated to determine it did not mislead or present a risk to the consumer and was not nutritionally disadvantageous compared with other foods that it might replace in the diet.

“We are therefore minded to view it to be a novel food, which cannot be sold legally until it has been formally authorised,”​ the FSA said.    

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