Several brands of diet and “detox” tea have been withdrawn from sale after Consumer NZ found they contained a pharmacy-only medicine.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the teas contained senna, a source of sennosides, which are used to treat constipation.
Companies need consent from Medsafe to advertise or sell products containing senna. However, none of the teas had this approval.
Ms Chetwin said it was concerning companies didn’t appear to be aware of the rules. Senna can lead to liver damage if taken for too long, she said.
The brands found by Consumer NZ included Healtheries Naturally Slim teas, sold at supermarkets.
Three Healtheries teas were removed from sale following Consumer NZ’s investigation: Healtheries Naturally Slim Lemon Tea, Healtheries Naturally Slim Superfruit Acai and Blueberry Tea, and Healtheries Herbalax Senna Peppermint Tea.
Other teas removed from sale included Senna Klenz, promoted as a detox tea and sold at health food stores, and a senna “teatox” advertised by influencer and personal trainer Sera Lilly on her website fat2fitnz.co.nz.
“These types of products make various claims about weight loss or ‘detoxing’ but they can be little more than laxatives in disguise,” Ms Chetwin said.
She advised consumers not to waste money on diet and detox teas. “There’s no good evidence these products provide any benefits and they could even do you harm.”
Detox claims were also meaningless, she said. “You don’t need to buy a pricey tea to ‘detox’. Your body is already primed to get rid of toxins by itself.”
Advertising or selling pharmacy-only medicines, such as senna, without consent can result in a fine of up to $100,000.