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Eu Yan Sang’s Bo Ying Compound in Singapore has acceptable level of lead: HSA

SINGAPORE – The local version of a Eu Yan Sang (EYS) product currently at the centre of a lead-poisoning investigation in the United States has been found to have an acceptable level of lead after testing by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

From left, the United States, Hong Kong and Malaysia/Singapore version of Eu Yan Sang's Bo Ying Compound. Photo: Laura Elizabeth Philomin

From left, the United States, Hong Kong and Malaysia/Singapore version of Eu Yan Sang's Bo Ying Compound. Photo: Laura Elizabeth Philomin

SINGAPORE – The local version of a Eu Yan Sang (EYS) product currently at the centre of a lead-poisoning investigation in the United States has been found to have an acceptable level of lead after testing by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

“The results of the laboratory testing, based on random sampling of the product obtained from the market, showed that the lead levels were within the acceptable limits of international and regional guidelines for herbal medicines,” a HSA spokesperson said in a statement.

Companies are also currently required to submit test results of specified heavy metals and microbial limits to the HSA for every batch of Chinese Proprietary Medicine (CPM) upon importation while on-going surveillance and random samples and tests ensure continued compliance with standards, the HSA spokesperson added.

Bo Ying Compound (BYC) , meant to address discomfort in children, was thrown into the spotlight when the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) received a report about a suspected case of lead poisoning in an 18-month-old child in July, by a BYC product supposedly manufactured by EYS Hong Kong.

In their investigations, the NYC DOHMH found lead levels in the product sample provided by the family and a retail sample higher than the department’s permissible lead levels for food ingredients. A health warning was issued to retailers in New York City in July and the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) subsequently posted an alert on Sept 26.

At a media conference today (Sept 30), EYS Group Chief Executive Richard Eu clarified that the company manufactures different versions of BYC according to the varying permissible lead limits in each country. Products produced for the Hong Kong market – which has 10 times higher permissible lead limits than the US – are not intended for sale in the US.

The company also could not confirm if the product in question was a genuine EYS product. “How this (HK product) got into the US, we do not know because we do not export it ourselves … and so far the authorities have not told us anymore details,” Mr Eu said.

The company has sent these queries to NYC DOHMH, including why the product was tested as a food ingredient instead of a dietary supplement which has higher lead limits. It will also be seeking more information on the circumstances that led to this case of lead poisoning, since the health warning did not make a conclusive statement that it was a result of ingesting the supplement.

As for the product sold in Singapore, Mr Eu said: “We’re perfectly confident that our product is completely safe for the purpose in which it is used. The product is made in Malaysia and they comply with both the Malaysia and Singapore regulation. And again, the lead levels are perfectly well within the guidelines.”

The HSA advises parents to consult healthcare professionals on conditions affecting young children, instead of over medicating with over-the-counter complementary health products.

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