Traditional Chinese medicine giant Eu Yan Sang defends lead poisoning risk accusation

SINGAPORE – Traditional Chinese medicine giant Eu Yan Sang on Tuesday defended the safety of its authorised products after its best selling item was flagged by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing excessive lead.

The Singapore Exchange-listed company’s ‘Bo Ying Compound’ – used for “phlegm, vomiting, crying at night, fever, cold and cough” in young children – was featured in an FDA alert last week which warned consumers of its lead poisoning risk.

“FDA learned of this risk from the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene after the product was tested and found to contain high levels of lead,” the alert said. “FDA has received one adverse event report of lead poisoning in an 18-month-old child who was given this product.”

Worried customers have made around 30 inquiries to the company’s headquarters here.

Eu Yan Sang fell 4 cents on Monday but group CEO, Mr Richard Eu, told reporters on Tuesday at the company’s Singapore base that all authorised products have lead content levels “well below” the limits of the countries they are distributed in.

The compound in the FDA alert was a Hong Kong version of the product which has never been authorised for export, as different countries have varying requirements for food products, Mr Eu added.

Lead level limits in Hong Kong are more than 10 times higher than in the US and the product in question is deemed perfectly safe for consumption there.

Mr Eu also noted that US authorities have not clarified if the product used by the affected toddler’s family came from an authorised, legitimate batch, nor had American authorities found the compound to be the direct cause of the child’s lead poisoning.

Mr Eu said: “There are a lot of anomalies and we think we’re the unfortunate victims here.”

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