Deadly Chloramphenicol Laces Nutritional Supplements and More

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Deadly Chloramphenicol Laces Nutritional Supplements and More

An FDA Enforcement Report for the week of November 13, 2013, requested a voluntary recall of Xylanase after the discovery September 30th, citing that products may be contaminated with Chloramphenicol. Enzymes manufactured by Advanced Enzymes in Mumbai, India may result in one of the most widespread recalls of products in history. The incomplete list that follows represents primarily digestive enzymes. More products are being added daily. To date, the FDA has issued no official statement on the scope of the US contamination. Not only are dietary supplements affected, but various baked goods, beverages, and animal feed are now contaminated with Chloramphenicol residues that have infiltrated the United States (U.S.), Canada, Japan, and the European Union (EU).

Sales from India to Japan began the chain of contamination, which traveled through the EU and onward. A manufacturing plant in Chino, California (Specialty Enzyme and Biochemicals Company) was the point of entry into the U.S. where the tainted products were released to food and feed manufacturers. This is a call to manufacturers who adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) in the U.S. to hold their suppliers to the same high standards they subscribe to; not trusting in promises but visiting raw material suppliers on site in unscheduled inspections. This is an added expense; however, liability issues come into play in cases such as this one as well so to neglect vetting suppliers is a false economy.

In an era of increased focus on food sourcing, integrity, and transparency in labeling, this is a violation of the highest order adding one of the most dangerous, banned antibiotics to an increasing burden of antibiotic resistance in a general population fully awake to the multiple assaults against them.

Sadly, there has been a lack of media attention in response to one of the largest recalls in recent history and you may still be consuming contaminated product if your supplier lacked the integrity to participate in the voluntary recall.

Chloramphenicol is quite familiar to the National Health Federation (NHF) as we recently attended the Codex Committee on Residues of Veterinary Drugs in Food (CCRVDF) in August of 2013 to fight to ban this potentially fatal drug in our food supply. Chloramphenicol is a veterinary antibiotic and an unexpected "solution" to sanitizing manufacturing equipment as in the case of this recent contamination in India.

 NHF was the only health-freedom organization in attendance at Codex and also the only one with the right to fight against vet residues of drugs in our food, beverage, and nutritional supplement supply and we won! The news release summarizing the results of CCRVDF is at this link on the NHF website: At the time of this Codex meeting, it was not common knowledge that India was washing equipment with a soon-to-be contraband, dangerous antibiotic. Had NHF known this, we would have argued against this on your behalf as well.

At CCRVDF, NHF successfully argued to get 9 out of 10 antibiotics banned in the Global food supply entering the U.S. as imports. One of those antibiotics was deadly Chloramphenicol, which is used in imported meat producing animals and aquaculture, primarily shrimp and clams. It is banned in the EU, Canada, and United States, yet illegal use of inexpensive Chloramphenicol to treat seafood products remains a possibility due to its broad-spectrum antibiotic activity. This is a concern as dangerous Chloramphenicol has among listed side effects aplastic anemia leading to leukemia.

Even pro-drug-industry Wikipedia has this to say about this toxic antibiotic, which NHF demanded banned at CCRVDF, "Chloramphenicol... is both cheap and easy to manufacture and it is frequently an antibiotic of choice in the Developing World...The most serious adverse effect associated with Chloramphenicol treatment is bone marrow toxicity, which may occur in two distinct forms: bone marrow suppression, which is a direct toxic effect of the drug and is usually reversible, and aplastic anemia, which is idiosyncratic (rare, unpredictable, and unrelated to dose) and generally fatal."

Potent Chloramphenicol has excellent blood-brain barrier penetration as well as passing through breast milk. 20g cumulative dose seems to be the tipping point into serious disease, even increasing chances for childhood leukemia. While these potentially fatal levels seem unlikely to be obtained by the amount of Xylanase present in digestive enzymes, consider the unnecessary introduction of antibiotics into our system in nutritional supplements and the potential for accumulation by consuming it regularly with the addition of other Chloramphenicol tainted foods and beverages.

In nutritional supplements, Xylanase was the ingredient contaminated by Chloramphenicol. It is used to break down cornstarch, which leads to a whole other issue: get verified non-GMO nutritional supplements from a reputable source like Mountain Health Products, which only stocks pharmaceutical quality supplements in over 30 professional lines. ( Sharon Lynn, owner of Mountain Health Products, shared how this problem was resolving from her standpoint as a raw materials purchaser, "A clean form of Xylanase is now available but to be on the safe side I requested reformulations of our product lines without Xylanase in them." She added, "Make sure you ask your retail supplier, if you buy from them instead of a professional quality line, if their product contains Xylanase as the recall was voluntary. Vendors lacking integrity will simply choose not to say anything." And they must not have as this has not been prominent in the media.

The contamination initiated in India blindsided supplement manufacturers. How are manufacturers supposed to know to test for non-standard items like antibiotics in their enzymes? Sharon Lynn added, "If this is happening with Xylanase where they are washing their equipment down with Chloramphenicol, we can assume it may be happening with other supplement ingredients as well." This kind of deception, so recently evident in the Chinese food supply as well, raises doubt and trust issues between consumers and suppliers. This is one of the main reasons NHF has a strong, protective presence as food and supplement regulators at Codex where these guidelines and standards are set for the World.

What you can do to cut your chances of contamination:

  • Demand to know the source of your raw ingredients, whether supplements, beverages or food.
  • Buy from only reputable sources that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices.
  • Good manufacturing practices (GMPs) are guidelines that provide a system of processes, procedures and documentation to assure a product has the identity, strength, composition, quality and purity that appear on its label. NSF International's GMP Registration Program enables manufacturers to become independently registered by NSF to meet GMP requirements. The program is open not just to manufacturers of dietary supplements but also to manufacturers of ingredients and raw materials, as well as distribution, warehousing and packaging companies, who want to demonstrate their commitment to public safety.
  • Insist on non-GMO nutritional supplements and foods.
  • Support the ongoing work of NHF ensuring these dangerous contaminants are kept out of the food, beverage, and nutritional supplement supply by joining and donating at NHF has no government funding and relies on the public solely for financial support to continue representing consumer on the Global level as food regulators with a highly successful track record
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
Sayer Ji
Founder of

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