We thank Mr Tan Soon Teck for his letter (Are cordyceps sold here really safe?; June 19).
Cordyceps sinensis is an herb used as an ingredient in Chinese proprietary medicines and health supplements.
To ensure the safety and quality of their products, all those who deal with the manufacture and sale of these products have to comply with the rules on toxic heavy metals (which includes arsenic) and prohibited substances.
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) carries out regular checks to monitor the compliance to these requirements and recalls harmful products when necessary.
Last year, the HSA checks on health products containing only cordyceps sinensis showed no safety concerns.
The tested products complied with the HSA's limit of 5ppm for arsenic, which is in line with the Asean limit set for traditional medicines and health supplements.
As Mr Tan had pointed out, the China Food and Drug Administration issued an alert in 2016 on cordyceps products in its market that had high levels of arsenic.
These were specific products uncovered during the China authority's checks.
Cordyceps products that are not impacted continue to be available in China, and currently, there are more than 60 products containing cordyceps sinensis registered in China.
As a general advisory, consumers should consult a healthcare professional before using any health product to manage their acute and chronic medical conditions.
Consumers should also inform their doctors about any health products they are taking before a surgical operation is scheduled.
Hui Foong Mei (Ms)
Complementary Health Products Branch
Health Products Regulation Group
Health Sciences Authority