Dutch authorities make further warnings on 'illegal' slimming products

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The Dutch Food Safety Authority (NVWA) has again warned consumers against using some brands of slimming products that have been found to contain potentially unsafe ingredients.

Supplement brands including Wispy Life Wispy Tea, Emtea, Irem Natural and Niva Detox have been cautioned against by the authority after it found they contained substances which are found in medicines and can have adverse side effects.

The warning comes after two suspects found to be trading these substances were held and arrested by the Intelligence and Investigation Service of the NVWA (NVWA IOD) just weeks ago. 

Heart problems, anxiety, high blood pressure and dizziness are all side effects that have been reported to the NVWA, the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb and the Poison Information Centre (NVIC), from consumers who have taken the slimming products, which are advertised and sold on social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram.

Banned substances found to be included in the products included sibutramine, sildenafil, fluoxetine and phenolphthalein. None of these active ingredients were listed on the labels, said NVWA.

Dutch crackdown

The Dutch authorities have been warning against buying slimming products since 2014, after a report - conducted by NVWA, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Wageningen University and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport Nutrition, Health Protection and Prevention Department at the Hague - showed 24 out of 50 tested samples between August 2004 and May 2013 contained active pharmacological ingredients.

Sibutramine, a pharmaceutical grade oral anorexiant, has been banned since 2010 following safety concerns over its side effects, including heart attacks and strokes. A further crackdown and criminal investigations regarding adulterated ingredients and illegal supplements has been in place in the Netherlands since a woman died after taking slimming supplements containing sibutramine last year.

The ongoing issue of “hidden” substances in products – especially those claiming to aid weight loss – has been widespread throughout Europe.

French researchers found that 56% of ‘so called 100% natural botanical slimming supplements’ are mixed with unlabelled pharmaceuticals, including sibutramine.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK warned consumers against purchasing weight loss aids, saying that most were unlicensed and potentially dangerous.

The NVWA is asking consumers and traders to report any of the aforementioned brands of products. 

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