FDA Links Kratom To Risk Of Salmonella Infections

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on companies having kratom-linked products after determining people using the plant-based supplement are at risk of salmonella infections.

Following a months-long investigation, the FDA said it identified “extremely high rates of salmonella contamination in kratom products collected and tested, leading to multiple recalls.”

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb made the announcement last week following numerous recalls of products following an outbreak of illnesses due to salmonella. At the end of May, a total of 199 cases of salmonellosis in 41 states had been linked to kratom consumption; 38 percent of those illnesses led to hospitalizations, the FDA said.

Salmonella bacterial infections occur from contamination of raw meats and eggs as well as contamination in foods. Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps in an illness that could last a week.

A high proportion of kratom being shipped into the United States may be contaminated with salmonella, according to Gottlieb’s statement.

“Interviews conducted by state and local health departments in coordination with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that a high proportion of the ill people reported recent consumption of kratom, either as capsules, powders or herbal remedies,” according to Gottlieb’s statement.

“It appears the salmonella problem with kratom uncovered earlier this year has probably been occurring for some time and is ongoing,” Gottlieb said. “We have closed our outbreak investigation, concluding that anyone consuming kratom may be placing themselves at a significant risk of being exposed to salmonella.”

Last month, HCPNow reported about the controversy over kratom, fueled in part by the opioid epidemic. It is one of the most controversial alternative treatments to opioids, with many supporting the plant-based supplement, and others, including the government, opposed.

Kratom is made from a tropical tree that is native to Southeast Asia and sometimes used as a tea. The FDA noted that it is believed to have “psychoactive or mind-altering effects.” Kratom is not legally marketed in this country and is considered an opioid, according to U.S. government officials.

The FDA said that kratom in the U.S. usually originates in the rural regions of Indonesia and Thailand. There, the plant is harvested and processed in “problematic conditions that readily create the circumstance for widespread contamination with foodborne pathogens,” the FDA said.  Even though it is used in capsules, powders and herbal remedies, the procedures do not “appear to be eliminating microbial contamination,” according to the agency.

Kratom use has been linked to severe health consequences and deaths, according to Gottlieb. Despite that, it has grown in popularity, he added.

U.S. officials are continuing to investigate the salmonella link to kratom. In February, the CDC identified an outbreak of illnesses due to salmonella that initially involved 24 people. No deaths were reported in connection with the salmonella.




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