Warning label to be added on food supplements containing ginger as well as on ginger tea, and corresponding drink powders

The known chemical constituents of ginger include e.g. zingiberen (30%), b-bisabolene (10-15%), sesquiphellandrene (15-20%), ar-curcumene, geranial, citronellol acetate and gingerols (approx. 5%).

The Risk Assessment Unit of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has had its network of experts make an assessment of the safety of the consumption of food supplements containing ginger during pregnancy. Scientific evidence on the consumption of ginger during pregnancy is quite limited and the results of research are inconsistent to some extent. A number of the chemical constituents of ginger could be harmful to foetal development; some of the chemical constituents have been found to cause e.g. cell mortality. The assessment produced indications suggesting that the consumption of ginger products as well as the abundant or long-term consumption of ginger tea should be avoided during pregnancy.

For this reason, Evira considers it appropriate in accordance with the precautionary principle that pregnant mothers be warned of the consumption of ginger products by separate labelling. The consumption of ginger products during pregnancy should always be discussed with a maternity clinic nurse, a doctor or a nutritionist.

In order to protect consumers against health hazards, the Decree on Labelling of Foodstuffs (1084/2004, Section 6) stipulates that if necessary, the package shall bear a warning label and/or instructions for use. Evira has concluded that as long as the effect of ginger on the foetus is not clear, the following foodstuffs shall bear a separate warning label for pregnant women:

Food supplement containing ginger

As food supplements are sold as pills, tablets or capsules with a small portion size, it is possible that they can be consumed in large quantities. It is not possible to scientifically establish a safe limit for the consumption of ginger during pregnancy. For this reason, Evira has concluded that if ginger or an ingredient containing ginger is a substance that characterises the food supplement (pursuant to Section 6 of the Decree on Food Supplements 571/2003), the product must bear the following label:

”Not recommended for pregnant women”.

As concerns the marketing of food supplements containing ginger, it should be borne in mind that in keeping with the aforesaid stipulation, advertisements and other marketing efforts may not be targeted at pregnant mothers.

Ginger tea and corresponding drink powders

Since consumption of tea made of ginger or containing ginger as an ingredient is possible in large quantities, Evira has concluded according to the precautionary principle the teas containing ginger, and corresponding drink powders must bear the following label:

”Not recommended for pregnant women”.

Consequently, pregnant women must not be a target group in the marketing of teas containing ginger, and corresponding drink powders.


Last modified 24.09.2010

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