(This isn’t flu news but I thought it important enough to share. -cottontop)

24 September 2010 Last updated at 08:10 ET

Food watchdogs have issued an alert after finding that a chemical marketed online as a health supplement was similar to industrial-strength bleach.

‘Miracle Mineral Supplement’ is 28% sodium chlorite – which becomes bleach when mixed with citric acid.

Even taken as instructed, experts say it can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea – and mixing it wrongly could lead to respiratory failure.

The Food Standards Agency is seeking to track down any UK-based sellers.

The supplement, which claims to have beneficial effects against a wide range of illnesses, ranging from HIV and hepatitis to H1N1 flu, has already been the subject of warnings from the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) in the US.


Legal action

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported cases of severe nausea and vomiting among people taking the supplement, even though they had mixed it according to the instructions provided.

When sodium chlorite is mixed with acid, it becomes chlorine dioxide, the active ingredient in bleach.

Household bleach is generally less than 5% chlorine dioxide, and if users failed to follow dilution instructions properly it could mean an even more potent concentration ends up in the body, said experts.

This could cause damage to the gut and red blood cells, potentially leading to respiratory failure.

Because sodium chlorite is not licensed as a food supplement in the UK, local authorities have the power to take legal action against any company supplying it from an address in their area.

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