The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced the decision to continue the ban on the use of kava kava following a review of the latest scientific evidence by the independent Committee on Toxicology (COT).
The FSA announced the decision following a review of the latest scientific evidence by the independent scientific advisory committee, the Committee on Toxicity (COT).
The COT concluded that the use of kava kava in food would continue to pose a risk to health.
The sale and import of kava kava in foods was banned in 2003 after the COT took the view that it was linked to liver damage.
The Agency said at that time that it would formally review the ban at any time, if significant new data supporting the safe use of kava kava came to light. It also made a commitment to review the latest information two years after the original ban was made.
A public consultation seeking evidence on whether the ban should remain in place was carried out by the Agency last year, and the consultation received information on additional cases of liver damage possibly associated with the use of kava kava outside the UK since 2003.
The COT looked at evidence submitted to the Agency and a review of the latest scientific literature on kava kava in December 2005.
It concluded that there was insufficient evidence to change its opinion that the consumption of kava kava in foods may lead to severe liver toxicity.
Jess Halliday from Nutraingredients reports that the UK is taking a more cautionary approach than Germany, where an outright prohibition on kava kava was lifted in May 2005. Products must now be registered in that country.
In Wales the ban was lifted in late 2002 due to enforcement difficulties. New regulations are anticipated but have yet to be introduced.
France, Ireland and Portugal have withdrawn kava kava from sale, to varying degrees. Canada and Australia advise against consumption while a risk assessment takes place, and the US and New Zealand have also initiated safety assessments, although products remain on sale for the meantime.