Bee Pollen Products Under FDA Scrutiny

Bee pollen products sold over the counter could pose health risks

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants consumers to be aware of the potential health risks tied to some over-the-counter bee pollen products.

On Friday, the FDA issued warnings about three bee pollen products — sold as weight loss products — noting that they contained two undeclared ingredients that can harm consumers.

Those undeclared ingredients were sibutramine and phenolphthalein. Sibutramine was removed from the market five years ago because it could cause severe effects in heart disease patients and interact with other medications, according to the FDA. Phenolphthalein is not FDA-approved, and, according to the agency, past research has tied it to a raised risk of cancer.

“It is tempting to believe that a quick and effortless weight loss supplement is safe for use,” said Jason Humbert, a senior regulatory manager in the Office of Regulatory Affairs, in a 2014 FDA press release. “But given the fact that these products contain a hidden dangerous ingredient, consumers should avoid taking them.”

All three of the recently recalled products — Prime Bee Pollen, Oasis Bee Pollen and Evolve Bee Pollen — contained sibutramine and phenolphthalein. But these were not the first bee pollen products the agency had warned about. At least 12 had previously been found to contain hidden, dangerous ingredients.

Pure bee pollen — the substance bees collect from plants to feed larvae — does not appear dangerous to humans, the FDA noted. But it has not been proven to be a "miracle ingredient," and consumers should be aware that many bee pollen products might contain hidden ingredients to increase weight loss. These ingredients could be unsafe.

Past reports tied to bee pollen products note serious heart problems, rapid heart rate, raised blood pressure, insomnia and seizures, among other effects, according to the FDA.

The FDA said consumers should be wary of dietary supplements that claim to cure or combat any disease.

"By law, dietary supplements may not claim to treat or prevent a disease," according to the agency in a past press release.

Review Date: 
December 21, 2015
Last Updated:
December 23, 2015