Alan Tichenal and Joannie Dobbs

Health Options


Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Certain energy bars
recalled for toxic
level of ingredients

In a perfect world, all foods, drugs, and dietary supplements would be completely safe. Today, however, we must realize that it would be naive to act as if we live in Camelot.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration handles recalls of food and drug products (prescription or herbal) due to safety or labeling problems. There are three levels of recall:

>> Class I: Indicates a "reasonable probability that the use or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death."

>> Class II: A product "may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote."

>> Class III: "Use of or exposure to a violative product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences."

Within the last two weeks, a few important Class I recalls have been issued for diet and energy bars made by Metabolife, as well as some dietary supplements.

It is common for individuals to use energy bars as meal replacements. Some individuals now consume "candy-bar tasting" energy bars for breakfast and lunch. But beware! Four of the 2-ounce Metabolife Diet & Energy bars contain toxic amounts of Vitamin A. Flavors are: Lemony Lemon, Downright Chocolate, Perfectly Peanut and Outrageous Oatmeal Raisin. The "best buy dates" are listed as Feb. 16 and earlier.

Indigestion has become big business as the pace of life in America quickens. Rather than changing lifestyle, many are attempting to handle digestion problems with products containing the enzyme pepsin.

Several of these dietary supplements were recalled due to Salmonella contamination of the raw material, pepsin. Problematic brands include: Hsu & Co. brand, Super Enzymes, and Acti-Gest tablets (sold under brands including Clark's Nutritional Centers, Edson Farms Natural Foods, Full-O-Life, Nature's Concept/The Natural Choice, Natural Products/Natures Way, Spatz and VP Health Food brand).

Two other herbal products that have undergone a Class I recall are PC SPES and SPES by BotanicLab. Both have been found to contain undeclared prescription drug ingredients.

PC SPES contains warfarin, an anti-clotting prescription drug also known as coumadin. Warfarin has negative interactions with more than 20 prescribed drugs, many over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol; aspirin, and ibuprofen, and vitamins K and E. PC SPES has shown some promise in prostate cancer clinical research trials, but warfarin or herbs containing phytochemicals with warfarin properties may be life-threatening to some individuals.

The proposed "immune enhancing product" SPES was found to contain the undeclared drug alprazolam, also known by the prescription brand-name Xanax. This anti-anxiety drug has many side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, headaches and rapid heart rate, to name just a few. Many of these side effects are increased with alcohol consumption. Alprazolam is also considered a controlled substance and may be physically addictive; individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms.

To stay informed about recalls and alerts go to the FDA Web site: To report serious reactions or problems with medical or herbal products, call (800) FDA-1088 or visit

Health Events

Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a food and nutrition consultant
and owner of Exploring New Concepts, a nutritional consulting firm.
She is also responsible for the nutritional analyses
indicated by an asterisk in this section.

Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a sports nutritionist in the
Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Science,
University of Hawaii-Manoa.

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