Are cordyceps sold here really safe?

There have been increasing alerts raised by the authorities and researchers in recent years on excessively high amounts of arsenic found in cordyceps, cordyceps powder and related products.

The China Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in 2016 that cordyceps are a danger to human health, as they have been found to contain arsenic levels up to 10 times the national approved limit.

Long-term consumption of excessive arsenic poses serious risks to human health, including the failure of major organs, resulting in death.

However, there seems to be an apparent lack of regulations and monitoring over the quality of cordyceps and related products here.

Despite these health alerts, major traditional Chinese medicine-linked companies are still aggressively marketing these cordyceps products as dietary supplements that can support a person's immune system, improve stamina and respiratory system, boost energy and lessen fatigue as well as strengthen the lungs and kidneys.

One such product is even the top-seller at a major traditional Chinese medicine chain store.

There are also numerous brands of cordyceps products sold over the counter at major pharmacies and retail stores.

There seems to be an apparent lack of regulations and monitoring over the quality of cordyceps and related products here. Despite these health alerts, major traditional Chinese medicine-linked companies are still aggressively marketing these cordyceps products.

Can the authorities as well as the major traditional Chinese medicine companies selling cordyceps and related products advise whether these products in Singapore are indeed safe for consumption?

There are many consumers purchasing and consuming these costly products, not knowing whether they are harmful to them.

Tan Soon Teck

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2018, with the headline 'Are cordyceps sold here really safe?'. Print Edition | Subscribe