Health warning to avoid Burmese traditional powders

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th April 2012

NSW Health advises the community to avoid the use of Burmese traditional powders, often used for digestion and strength in babies, following new health concerns.

Health experts in America have found high levels of lead in Burmese children, and one of the causes is thought to be use of these traditional medicine powders.

NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority are investigating after samples of the same powders recently bought in Sydney have been found to contain dangerously high amounts of arsenic.

Arsenic can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems and coma. The amounts of arsenic found in powders bought in Sydney are high enough to cause severe adverse effects in young children. Over time arsenic can also cause skin problems, numbness in the hands and feet, and may increase the risk of various cancers.

The traditional powders are known to be sold under various different product names, and have been found in Burmese grocery stores in Sydney. There are concerns these products may be widely used by the Karen and other Burmese communities in Sydney.

NSW Director of Environmental Health, Dr Wayne Smith is warning the Burmese community of the health concerns surrounding these traditional medicine powders.

“Further toxicology testing of the product is required however, in the meantime the NSW Food Authority are requesting Burmese grocery shops withdraw the product from sale,” Dr Smith said.