The next time you pop dietary supplement pills or take a swig of muscle-building concoctions in the quest for a toned body, read the fine print carefully.
The government has come out with an advisory against the use of certain dietary supplements being marketed in the country as those may contain harmful steroids. This was done at the behest of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which alerted the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India over the possibility of those products making an entry to India in the garb of 'dietary supplements'.
Those products were subject to class-I recall in the US and some other countries as some of these were marketed as 'dietary supplements' and not as drugs. A class-I recall is for dangerous or defective products that could cause serious health problems or even lead to death. The products were found to contain steroid or steroid-like substances, and were not approved by the US FDA as medicine.
Though these products were recalled late last year in the US, the government issued the advisory only on July 16. Steroid-containing products pose a risk of acute liver injury to people who consume them. In addition, steroids may cause other serious long-term adverse health consequences in people, including children. These may include male infertility, masculinisation of women, stunted growth in children, adverse effects on blood lipid profile and increased risk of heart attack, stroke and even death.
The products may include body building supplements, whey proteins and vitamins. Consumers, who have any of the recalled products, should stop using them immediately and contact their physician if they have experienced any problems. Though there are strict guidelines regulating diet supplements in the West, India hardly has any checks and balances on these products.
Now, the government plans to plug this loophole. Food Safety and Standards Authority, under the aegis of the Union health ministry, is framing guidelines for all food and beverages, nutraceuticals, dietary supplements, energy drinks and special food including functional and probiotic products.
All foods will soon have to comply with vitamin stipulations, mineral and protein content and recommended portion sizes as laid down by the proposed Food Safety regulations. According to the proposed regulation, claims on prevention or cure of diseases will need the authority's approval.