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Firm warned of herb threat in some teas

September 23, 2007|From Times Wire Services

U.S. health regulators warned natural-foods company Hain Celestial Group Inc. about an herb in some of its teas, saying it might be dangerous to blood sugar levels as well as reproductive, cardiovascular and renal systems.

The Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to Hain calling the herb -- a natural sweetener made from a South American herb called stevia -- "an unsafe food additive."

The Celestial Seasonings-brand products cited by the FDA include the Zingers line of herbal teas. Stevia, several hundred times sweeter than sugar but with no calories, is approved as a dietary supplement but not as a food additive in the U.S.

The FDA said the company could change the products' labels to reflect that they are supplements and not food, Melville, N.Y.-based Hain said.

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