In this article the authors analysed the last decade of RASFF alerts relating to adulterated and unauthorised supplements and discussed the potential health impacts. They conclude that health concerns rise in parallel with the rise in the popularity and market availability of these products.
The most frequent pharmaceuticals for the adulteration of food supplements were phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (235 records); anorexics and laxatives (76), including sibutramine and its active metabolite N-didesmethyl sibutramine, phenolphthalein and 2,4-dinitrophenol. There were also stimulants, among which 1,3-dimethylamine (97), and synephrine (53) were the most numerous. Also included were nootropic drugs (24); anabolics and prohormones (16); and cannabinoid cannabidiol (14) (pending authorization as a novel food ingredient).
Over 65% of these notifications were classified as serious risks, and over 80% of these were alert or border rejection notifications, mainly generated as a result of official control on the market.
The authors recommend that a harmonized nutrivigilance system should be considered as a tool to detect and scrutinize the adverse health effects of food supplements, along with measures to improve their safety, quality, and testing.