Monday, June 07, 2004

Ephedra Still Being Found

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner
Charles H. Bronson today announced that his department has issued stop-sale
orders for dietary supplements containing ephedra at more than 182 food
establishments throughout the state since a federal ban on ephedra went
into effect April 12.

The banned dietary supplements have been found in convenience stores,
grocery stores, health food stores, and a warehouse in Fort Lauderdale, and
were discovered by department inspectors during the course of routine
inspections that they conduct to ensure that stores are maintained in a
sanitary condition. The total number of packages of the banned substances
that have been the subject of stop-sale orders run into the thousands,
Bronson said.

"We continue to find these dangerous products nearly two months after they
have been banned," Bronson said. "Merchants need to make sure that they
dispose of these products as they constitute a significant health risk to

A stop-sale order prohibits stores from selling an item, and they have the
option of either destroying the item or returning it to its manufacturer.

When the ban was first announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) last December, Bronson asked food establishments in Florida to
voluntarily pull the products from store shelves while the rule making
process was under way. Inspectors visited more than 15,000 stores in that
effort. Now that the prohibition against selling dietary supplements
containing ephedra is in effect, Bronson's inspectors are assisting the FDA
in enforcing the ban.

Bronson wrote to the FDA more than a year ago, advocating a nationwide ban
on such products on grounds that those products had been linked to more
than 100 deaths nationwide and thousands of injuries.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services initially took
action against ephedra products in 1996 following the death of a teenager
who died while visiting Florida during spring break. At that time,
stop-sale orders were issued on all ephedra dietary supplements containing
more than 25 milligrams of ephedrine alkaloids per dose.

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