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J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Dec 29;52(26):7822-7.

Evaluation of metal and microbial contamination in botanical supplements.

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  • 1Bioactive Natural Products and Phytoceuticals, Department of Horticulture, National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


The sale of botanical dietary supplements in the United States is on the rise. However, limited studies have been conducted on the safety of these supplements. There are reports on the presence of undesired metals in some of the botanical dietary supplements. In this study, echinacea, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, grape seed extract, kava kava, saw palmetto, and St. John's wort supplements manufactured by Nature's Way, Meijer, GNC, Nutrilite, Solaray, Sundown and Natrol, have been analyzed for lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, uranium, chromium, vanadium, copper, zinc, molybdenum, palladium, tin, antimony, thallium, and tungsten using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. All samples were devoid of mercury contamination. Results indicated that the botanical supplements analyzed did not contain unacceptable concentrations of these metals. These supplements were also evaluated for microbial contamination, and most samples analyzed showed the presence of bacteria or fungi or both. Microbes were not counted nor were microbial counts determined in these samples.

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