FDA Issues Warning on Weight Loss Pill Sold Through Amazon

The supplements were sold through other websites, the FDA says.
FDA Issues Warning on Weight Loss Pill Sold Through Amazon
Signage outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, M.d., on Aug. 29, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
Jack Phillips

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that certain supplements sold on Amazon and elsewhere could contain a toxic substance that could cause “severe, or even fatal” adverse health effects.

In a notice last week, the FDA said that certain supplements labeled as tejocote, also known Mexican hawthorn and the Latin name Crataegus mexicana, may be adulterated after an analysis found they were substituted with yellow oleander, or Cascabela thevetia, which is a poisonous plant. Tejocote is sometimes billed as a weight-loss supplement.

The oleander is a “toxic substance of concern to public health officials,” the FDA said. “In other words, the tested products are labeled as tejocote but are actually toxic yellow oleander.”

“Ingestion of yellow oleander can cause neurologic, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular adverse health effects that may be severe, or even fatal. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cardiac changes, dysrhythmia, and more,” the FDA said.

The FDA tested about nine samples of different tejocote supplement brands and found that they contained yellow oleander. At least one of them—Alipotec Tejocote Root—was sold via Amazon.com, two of them were sold on Etsy, and others were sold on various nutrition websites.

“The FDA advises consumers who have taken any of these products of concern to contact their health care provider immediately,” the agency said. “Even if these products have not been used recently, consumers should still inform their health care provider about which product they took, so that an appropriate evaluation may be conducted.”

Any consumer who owns the products listed on the FDA website should stop using them and dispose of them, the FDA advised.

“Based on the FDA’s sampling and testing results thus far, the FDA is also concerned that other products marketed as tejocote (including with other names such as Crataegus mexicana, Raiz de Tejocote, and Mexican Hawthorn) may contain yellow oleander,” it added.

The FDA analysis of the products came after a September 2023 report that was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which noted instances of tejocote being swapped with yellow oleander in supplements.

By itself, tejocote can cause some adverse side-effects, including stomach symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, officials say.

Testing on such products followed a September 2023 report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), citing numerous instances of swapping tejocote root in place of yellow oleander.
“These readily available dietary supplements, upon testing, appeared to be mislabeled,” the CDC study authors wrote. “Instead, they contained a toxic substance of concern to both clinicians and public health officials.”

Recent Recalls

More than 650,000 cans of baby formula are being recalled across the United States over potential bacterial contamination. Cans of Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Infant Formula Powder, a formula that is given to babies with an allergy to dairy, are being voluntarily recalled, said Reckitt and Mead Johnson Nutrition in a statement earlier this month.

The reason for the recall is because the product is potentially contaminated with Cronobacter sakazakii, which can sometimes cause life-threatening infections such as meningitis or sepsis.

And Quaker Oats last month recalled several of its granola products, including granola bars and cereals, saying the foods could be contaminated with salmonella. Salmonella infections can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, according to the FDA

In rare cases, the bacterial disease can be fatal. Quaker, which is owned by PepsiCo, said in a news release that it has not received any reports of salmonella infections related to the recalled granola products. The full list of recalled foods includes granola oats cereals and Quaker Chewy Bars, which are also sold in PepsiCo’s snack mixes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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