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Food safety agency withdraws aphrodisiacs from the shelves

The federal food safety agency (Afsca/FVVA) has ordered the withdrawal of two products sold as aphrodisiacs for men from the market, because they contain medicinal compounds.

An aphrodisiac is a product, usually a food preparation, which claims to increase sexual arousal or potency, mainly in men. Historically, such products range anywhere from oysters to the skin of toads, ginseng, asparagus, and perhaps because of the name, horny goat weed (Epimedii herba).

The two products are marketed as “Gouttes d’Amour” (Love Drops) and “Miel du Soudan aphrodisiaque” (Aphrodisiac Sudanese Honey).

Following a report from a member of the public, the agency carried out tests, and found that the two products, both originating in Morocco, contain Sildenafil – the active ingredient in Viagra.

That is the stuff of erection pills,” explained Liesbeth Van de Voorde, spokesperson for the agency. “That’s a medication, which is not permitted in food supplements. It could, for example, be dangerous for people with cardiac complaints.”

Viagra itself, meanwhile, was originally developed by drug company Pfizer in a search for a remedy for cardiac-related chest pain. Test subjects reported unexpected side-effects, and the drug is now mainly prescribed for erectile dysfunction.

However Belgian law – not surprisingly – forbids food supplements that contain compounds known to be prescription drugs. The reason is very simple: a person’s doctor will be aware of the possibility of interactions between the drug and the patient’s other medication, whereas purchasing a substance over the counter takes no account of interactions or contra-indications – circumstances in which the substance may not be ingested.

Apart from the two presentations found by the agency, other preparations may be on sale, the agency warned. One simply way to detect a suspect packaging: “The packaging should be in Dutch or French,” Van de Voorde said, to signify it is cleared for sale in Belgium. “Other languages should set off an alarm. You really need to be able to tell what is in the product.”

The two products in question are banned from sale regardless of expiry date and lot number. They are both presented in a cardboard package of 25 ten-gram bars.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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