Cordyceps sold here undergo stringent tests

We refer to the letter (Are cordyceps sold here really safe?, by Mr Tan Soon Teck; June 19).

All Chinese proprietary medicines are regulated by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and must comply with a set of safety and quality criteria before being allowed to be sold here.

Among the areas the rules apply to are: the licensing of dealers, pre-market product registration and approval, as well as post-market surveillance.

Cordyceps are documented in Chinese pharmacopoeia and all Chinese proprietary medicines, including those containing cordyceps, are tested for heavy metal content. Prior to importation, the tested products must be listed and approved for sale in Singapore, including having the certification of approval for a stipulated limit of heavy metal levels.

As an industry body that represents about 550 traditional Chinese medicine companies in Singapore, we adhere to the tight regulations imposed by HSA and always work closely with the authority.

Our members who are importers, wholesale dealers and manufacturers of Chinese proprietary medicines are required to be licensed by HSA. Our products, including cordyceps that are found in retail stores, are subjected to random sampling and testing by HSA.

Due to HSA's monitoring programme, the industry gets alerted of any health products that may be causing adverse reactions.

This system of checks and controls has enabled our industry, including HSA, to initiate timely recalls of harmful and inferior-quality products.

The other safety net for the industry is a regional alert system by the health authorities of the 10 Asean nations that meet regularly to set standards and regulations on traditional medicine and health supplement products for the region. The alert system helps the industry to monitor news on contraventions, contraband, product safety violations, and so forth.

It is our responsibility to consumers to carry safe traditional Chinese medicine products.

David Tang

Chairman

Singapore Traditional Chinese Medicine Organisations Committee