Company says ginseng batch contaminated
May 21, 1998
Web posted at: 2:15 p.m. EDT (1815 GMT)
The ginseng root
ATLANTA (CNN) -- If you use the herb ginseng, beware: There
is concern that some ginseng products may be contaminated
with the fungicide quintozene, also known as PCNB.
Quintozene is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
"Special Health Hazard Substance List." It can damage liver
and kidneys, interfere with the blood's ability to carry
oxygen and cause eye damage or cancer.
PharmaPrint, a testing company in California, alerted the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration after it found quintozene
in a raw sample of ginseng that had been provided for testing
by Hauser Chemical Research Inc., a major supplier of raw
Officials still don't know if shipments of raw ginseng to
other manufacturers were tainted or if the tainted ginseng
made its way into products that are now on shelves for
consumers to buy.
"That's a concern," said Elliot Friedman of PharmaPrint. "We
think there's a reasonably high likelihood that it's out
there in stores right now."
A California company found the fungicide quintozene in a shipment of raw
Hauser, based in Boulder, Colorado, told CNN it has stopped
all ginseng processing and shipments of ginseng products
until further testing can be done.
"I can tell you PCNB is not acceptable in ginseng or any
other herbal product in the marketplace at any level,"
Most products containing quintozene are banned in the United
States. The substance is an organochlorine fungicide used at
planting to treat seeds and soil.
Ginseng is the second most popular herb sold in the United
States. Consumers use it to treat common ailments ranging
from depression and fatigue to the common cold and other
PharmaPrint suggests consumers contact their health care
providers for guidance.
Correspondent Rhonda Rowland contributed to this report.