Kratom contaminated with salmonella seized by CBP.

Image of kratom powder, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Detroit seized more than a half ton of “salmonella-laced Kratom” at the Fort Street Cargo Facility.

Author’s comment: the original headline was “CBP Seizes Half Ton of Salmonella-Laced Kratom“. Not sure why they used the word “laced” in the headline as lacing something is typically used to mean adding an ingredient to bulk up a drug. I am unsure how a kratom exporter can “lace” kratom with salmonella on purpose or if there would be a benefit to doing so. Additionally, the use of the word “lace” to describe kratom may also be an effort to associate kratom as dangerous as other illegal drugs that are frequently laced such as crack, heroin, PCP, etc.

The media release reports 1,200 pounds of contaminated powder (valued according to CBP at $405,000) was selected for further inspection due to an unusual description and classification discrepancies.

CBP said the kratom “which originated from China, were manifested as botanical soils from Canada, though Officers and specialists believed it to be consistent in appearance to bulk green tea”.

Author’s comment: this is the first time I have heard of kratom from China, maybe it was transhipped from Indonesia? CBP did not indicate the “classification discrepancy” or point out what HTSUS code was used to enter the kratom.

CBP took a sample of the power and sent it to the Food and Drug Administration for lab tests – which confirmed the shipment was kratom but also saw it was contaminated with salmonella. As a result, CBP seized the shipment “due to significant risk to public health and safety”.

Author’s comment: CBP does not specify the import alert on kratom as the basis for seizure. I have not seen the seizure notice (it will only be sent to the importer of record), but it was likely seized for not being described as kratom on the shipping documents.

In the last paragraph of the CBP media release, they write:

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, and its leaves are often ingested in the form of tea. Depending on dosage, Kratom can produce both stimulant and sedative effects. Kratom is not a scheduled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, though the Drug Enforcement Administration currently lists it as a Drug or Chemical of Concern.

It is interesting they do not mention the 2016 import alert regarding kratom. If you have had your shipment of kratom (mitragyna speciosa) seized by CBP, contact David Hsu, 24/7 by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

No FDA import alert updates for kratom.

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The FDA frequently modifies alerts for food imports on their website here. For the most recent update on June 18, 2019, the entry for “DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS AND BULK DIETARY INGREDIENTS THAT ARE OR CONTAIN MITRAGYNA SPECIOSA OR KRATOM” remains unchanged.

Will update if/when the FDA modifies their import alert for kratom. If you have any kratom related import questions, contact experienced import attorney David Hsu by text/call on David’s mobile, 832-896-6288 or by email at his personal email: attorney.dave@yahoo.com or work address: dh@gjatradelaw.com.

FDA issues new warning on Kratom – May 22, 2018.

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U.S. Food & Drug Administration Logo, credit: FDA.gov

On May 22, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning (full text here) for three marketers and distributors of kratom products:

1. Front Range Kratom of Aurora, Colorado;
2. Kratom Spot of Irvine, California and
3. Revibe, Inc., of Kansas City, Missouri.

The FDA claims the above distributors and others like them are illegally selling unapproved kratom-containing drug products with unproven claims about their ability to help in the treatment of opioid addiction and withdrawal.

The FDA cited the companies claims that kratom also treats pain, lowers blood pressure, treats cancer and reduces the damage caused by strokes.

As you are aware, all medical claims from a food or drug product must be approved by the FDA. The FDA position is that kratom as an “opioid analogue” that may contribute to the opioid epidemic instead of treating the addiction.

The FDA warning reiterated FDA”s position that Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) use expose users to a risk of addiction, abuse and dependence by affecting the same opioid brain receptors as morphine. At the moment there are no FDA-approved uses for kratom.

Benefits of kratom?
Commonly argued benefits of kratom include: helping end drug addiction, ability to lower blood pressure, relieve pain, boost metabolism, increase sexual energy, improve the immune system, prevent diabetes, ease anxiety, eliminate stress, and induce healthy sleep. It is believed that kratom also reduces the opiate withdraw effects allowing those addicted to other opioids an opportunity to quit. The list of kratom benefits also include relieving headaches, vascular pain, arthritic pain and muscle pain?

FDA-Approval soon?
A check on the FDA site shows no indicating kratom/mitragyna speciosa will be approved anytime soon or even in the near future. Some argue FDA-approval doesn’t legitimize a drug as evidenced by the multitude of mass tort pharmaceutical lawsuits over dangerous drugs (trasylol, accutane, actos, depakote, hydroxycut, etc).

How does this FDA release impact imports of kratom?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces the laws of all the US government agencies (FDA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, etc). This new FDA warning and others before it mean that imports of kratom may be subject to detainment and seizure if the imports of kratom contain non FDA-approved statements concerning the benefits of kratom. Officially, kratom is still being imported into the US with sporadic reports of seized kratom shipments.

More questions?
If you have any questions about the importation of kratom or a seizure related to kratom, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu by text/phone at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Importing Kratom? If yes, read this post.

Kratom Leaves

Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) leaves, photo by Manuel Jebauer on Wikipedia

What is Kratom
Kratom is a plant found in Thailand and Malaysia and grown naturally. In the US, Kratom is typically sold in smoke shops as a powder that is used in tea to slow the effects of opioid withdrawal. Kratom is also believed to relieve fatigue, pain, cough and diarrhea. Kratom is sometimes used recreationally for its euphoric effects.

What is the problem with Kratom?
In November of 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited 36 deaths from consumers who used Kratom to ease their opioid withdraw symptoms. Additionally the FDA said consumption of Kratom also causes risks for abuse, addiction and in some instances death as opiods. As of February 18, 2017, the current Kratom related death count is 44 according to FDA spokesperson Lyndsay Meyer.

Is Kratom safe?
Previous studies of Kratom performed in Asia do not link Kratom in its pure form to  any deaths. It is believed the lack of quality control in the US can lead to the dangerous alterations of Kratom or addition of other drugs.

What about importing Kratom?
Back in November 2017, the FDA issued import alerts to stop the shipments of Kratom from entering the US. After the announcement, hundreds of shipments have already been detained and seized. Even with the import alert, it is estimated that there may be around 340 million packages of Kratom reaching the US each year.

See my most recent Kratom post here:

FDA issues new warning on Kratom – May 22, 2018.

If you have had shipments of Kratom seized by Customs and Border Protection, call experienced seizure attorney, David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.