Allowed in food supplements

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Singapore regulations allow slightly higher lead levels in food and health supplements than those of some other countries.

The difference was brought to light last week after a health scare over lead levels contained in a popular traditional Chinese medicine.

The Bo Ying compound is sold by traditional Chinese medicine retailer Eu Yan Sang.

Singapore permits higher levels of lead in health supplements than the United States. For food ingredients, Singapore permits higher levels than, for instance, the European Union (EU).

Should people be concerned? No, says the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). Its spokesman told The Straits Times: “Although different jurisdictions have limits that vary relative to each other, the absolute difference between these limits is actually minimal, due to the scale of measurement in parts per million.”

She explained that the lead limits for food are lower than for those in medicinal products, as “the intake of (these) is expected to be less than food”.

When determining the acceptable limits of heavy metals such as lead in products, various factors, including the type of product, whether it is consumed and the amount used, are considered, added the spokesman.

Eu Yan Sang’s Bo Ying compound, used to treat phlegm, vomiting, fevers, colds and coughs in young children, was flagged for lead poisoning risk by the US authorities on Sept 26.

source: your health

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