Raspberry Ketones Classified as ‘Novel Food’ and Banned in the UK and Europe
The Food Standards Agency is an organisation, which ensures that food and the ingredients used within it are safe to consume by humans and this extends to health supplements. At the end of March this year, the Food Standards Agency decided to classify raspberry ketone as a novel food, a type of food that does not have a significant history of consumption or one that is produced in a way that has not previously been used for food. In making raspberry ketone a novel food, the Food Standards Agency has also made it illegal to sell the substance within the European Union. The FSA has put this ban in place to encourage clinical study on the substance while attempting to keep the public safe from any potential dangers that may arise from the currently untested raspberry ketone.
What is raspberry ketone?
Raspberry ketone is the aromatic compound that is present in the red raspberry a fruit found in Northern Africa and Central Asia. Raspberry ketone is believed to give the berry its distinctive taste and smell and the compound has been used for decades as a flavouring and is added to many different types of food and drink. Recently, raspberry ketone has found itself entering the spotlight for its supposed ability to aid weight loss, however raspberry ketone only occurs naturally in small amounts meaning that it is produced in large quantities in a lab in order to be used in health supplements.
To find out more about raspberry ketones, read our full raspberry ketone article.
The claims made about raspberry ketone
There have been many claims made about raspberry ketone in regards to its apparent ability to aid weight loss. It has been stated that when consumed in relatively large amounts, raspberry ketone is able to increase the body’s production of a substance known as adiponectin, a protein hormone, which modulates the metabolic processes within the body. It has also been claimed that raspberry ketone can enhance the muscle’s ability to use carbohydrates to provide energy, suppress appetite, boost metabolism and increase the rate in which the body breaks down fat. Although these claims may make the substance appear rather appealing, the bottom line is that there has been no clinical testing on humans and therefore there is no evidence to suggest that the substance actually works. Because of this, it can be said that consumers are being misled and encouraged to purchase a supplement that is very unlikely to work.
The clinical evidence
As we have stated, one of the reasons that raspberry ketone has been banned in the UK and European Union is that there have been no clinical studies carried out on the effectiveness or safety of the substance on humans and therefore there has been no robust evidence to back up the claims made about raspberry ketone. The lack of clinical testing also means that there has been no official documentation of potential side effects or reactions with certain drugs or foods. Such testing is especially important in this case as raspberry ketone is a relatively new weight loss supplement, meaning that there is no history of consumption of the substance. So if there has been no clinical testing, where have these weight loss claims originated from? Although no testing has been carried out on humans, there has been some research into the effect of the substance on mice and in test tubes.
The tests that have been carried out in test tubes suggested that raspberry ketone is able to indirectly cause the breakdown of fats by stimulating the increased production of the protein hormone adiponectin. This finding indicated that the substance might have some weight loss qualities. However, a test such as this does not look at the safety of the substance in regards to human health, in fact it is highly likely that the amount of raspberry ketone used in these tests is unsafe for human consumption. While manufacturing companies may quote this test as evidence for the effectiveness of raspberry ketone it proves nothing about the consumption of the substance by humans, as it is unsafe for humans to consume such a large dosage.
Other studies have been carried out using mice as the test subjects. In one particular test carried out in 2004, mice were given a high fat diet with raspberry ketone for 6 weeks and then were given the same diet with a higher amount of raspberry ketone for the following 5 weeks. The results of this study showed that raspberry ketone was able to prevent the weight gain that the high fat diet should have induced and these effects were thought to have stemmed from the raspberry ketone altering the lipid metabolism of the mice. Other studies found that raspberry ketone is able to improve hair regrowth and skin elasticity. However, again no humans were used as subjects in these studies meaning that it is impossible to know how effect raspberry ketone actually is in aiding weight loss in humans. Furthermore, not enough is known about the safety of the substance when consumed by humans and so for these reasons there is no way to know for certain how users of raspberry ketone will react.
To find out more about clinical studies carried out on Raspberry Ketones, read our full article on Raspberry Ketone clinical studies.
Have there been any reports of side effects from raspberry ketone?
Although raspberry ketone is a flavouring believed to be safe to consume within foods and one that most of us will have consumed at one point or another, it is important to remember that users of raspberry ketone supplements may react differently to the raspberry ketone found in these supplements. This is because it is likely that raspberry ketone health supplements contain a much larger amount of raspberry ketone than foods do and therefore may result in more exaggerated or possibly different side effects to those accompanying foods rich in raspberry ketone. As raspberry ketone is a naturally occurring substance, many manufacturers and distributors claim that raspberry ketone has no side effects. However, this is untrue as just because a substance is natural does not mean that it is free from side effects.
In fact, the chemical structure of raspberry ketone is very similar to that of a stimulant named synephrine, which is known to have very unpleasant side effects, which include feelings of jitteriness, rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations and increased blood pressure. As the two substances are so similar, it is likely that raspberry ketone may also carry these effects. Furthermore, the two substances are also chemically similar to another substance named ephedra, which has already been banned in the UK due to the serious side effects that it carries which are thought to include heart attacks. This would suggest that detailed clinical research should be undertaken in regards to raspberry ketone before it is sold to the public, as there is a chance that similar effects may result from the use of this substance.
Many users have taken to the internet to publish their first hand reviews on raspberry ketone products, commenting on their experiences and making note of any uncomfortable side effects that they may have come across. There is a wide range of effects listed on various review pages including headaches, bloating, increased bowel movements, abdominal cramps, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and energy loss, feeling lightheaded, vomiting and sleeping issues. These reports of side effects raise some concern over the safety of the substance and outline the potential dangers that may arise from taking large or highly concentrated doses of raspberry ketone. Some of these effects may prove to be extremely serious for those with underlying health conditions, especially high blood pressure or heart problems and could have serious impact.
More information on raspberry ketone side effects can be found on our side effects page.
Feedback from raspberry ketone products
The reviews of raspberry ketone products on websites such as Amazon are very mixed, with some users claiming to have had good experiences with the substance and to have lost pounds in weight while other users state that the substance has failed to work at all for them. Some reviewers suggest that they had been misled by the manufacturers of certain raspberry ketone products, expecting to burn a larger amount of fat and experience suppressed hunger but instead feeling no different and noticing no positive effects. The substance has also been labelled as a placebo by some reviewers who say that they believe a healthy lifestyle and exercise regime are to thank for their weight loss and not the raspberry ketone capsules. This raises some concern, as it appears that the substance is not as effective as the distributors make out, which suggests that raspberry ketone may have been falsely advertised as a weight loss product. There have also been several users who claim to have been forced to stop taking the substance as they feared for their health, experiencing heart palpitations or feeling generally unwell, again casting doubt over the safety of raspberry ketone.
View customer reviews on raspberry ketones on our user review page.
What is next for raspberry ketone?
Raspberry ketone is no longer available to purchase legally in the United Kingdom or European Union and will not be until an application has been made to the Food Standards Agency. Then it will only become legal to sell raspberry ketone after an investigation into the substance and the substance must be approved and considered as being safe to consume, while being marketed in a way that will not mislead customers as to the effects and qualities of the product. Raspberry ketone will have to pass tests in regards to safety and also effectiveness if it is to be branded and sold as a weight loss supplement and this will apply to individual brands of the supplement in order to ensure that the substances that may potentially re enter the market will all be approved by FSA.
Has the Food Standards Agency done the right thing?
The health supplement market is growing every day and it is relatively unregulated, meaning that products can make their way to shelves without being thoroughly tested on humans and this could potentially lead to bad reactions or serious side effects being experienced. It is important to remember that there is absolutely no evidence of any clinical testing of raspberry ketone being carried out on humans and for this reason it is difficult to establish how safe the substance is for human consumption – especially as there is no history of human consumption or knowledge of its reaction with certain drugs. Furthermore, the lack of testing shows that the claims made by various companies selling raspberry ketone are not backed up with evidence, suggesting that some customers may have been misled as to the effectiveness of the substance. These various reasons are strong enough to place a ban upon the substance, as the companies selling the substance have not ensured that it meets the necessary requirements to be approved on the health supplement market. Leaving the substance on the market and available to the public could result in serious consequences if it is found to have dangerous side effects or reactions and if the substance is unable to aid weight loss then it should not be advertised and sold as a weight loss supplement. To conclude, raspberry ketone will no longer be legally available to purchase in the United Kingdom or European Union until the substance has undergone and passed certain procedures in order to be approved by the Food Standards Agency.
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