Herbal drinks store owner in China jailed and fined for adding cold remedies to products

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The owner of a herbal drinks store in Guangzhou was sentenced to six months in jail with a one-year reprieve on Monday (Dec 25) for adding Western medicines to his products.

The store owner, surnamed Wang, was also fined 150,000 yuan (S$30,718) for producing and selling poisonous and harmful food by Guangzhou Yuexiu District People's Court.

Wang added powder from medication capsules containing paracetamol, which is used to treat pain and fever, and chlorphenamine maleate, which is used to prevent the symptoms of allergic conditions, to herbal drinks and sold them between June 25 and Aug 5 last year, Guangzhou Daily reported.

The defendant argued that herbal tea is used to treat symptoms and the capsules he used are all over-the-counter medicines, which are not poisonous or harmful.

The court, however, ruled that herbal drinks are not a medical treatment but used for health improving purposes. Therefore, they are classified as food, according to definition under the country's food safety law. Ingredients considered as both foods and traditional Chinese medicines can be added to food products, but not Western medicines.

The capsules that Wang used are medicines and are prohibited from being used in food, the court ruled.