Company objects to health alert over Vega One Vanilla Chai and Vega Sport Performance Chocolate
Two of the most popular plant-based nutritional shakes on the market are at the centre of a dispute between Health Canada and Burnaby-based Vega.
Health Canada has reported on its website that Vega One Vanilla Chai and Vega Sport Performance Chocolate have been found to contain the antibiotic chloramphenicol.
It's a prescription drug "associated with a rare risk of aplastic anemia, a serious blood disorder that can be fatal".
"This reaction is unpredictable and not related to a specific dose of chloramphenicol," Health Canada states. "Other side effects that can be associated with chloramphenicol include allergic reactions in people who have sensitivity to the medication, and effects on the bone marrow leading to decreased blood cells. In addition, it should not be used by pregnant or lactating women."
Vega has responded on its website that it's "confident our products in question are absolutely safe".
"However, given that we value each of our consumer’s individual feelings about our product, we will accept returns with a full refund," Vega declared. "For a listing of product names and lot codes that may contain trace amounts of chloramphenicol, all of which are well below the levels published by Health Canada to be safe for human consumption, click here."
The company's president and founder, Charles Chang, said it immediately launched an investigation after learning that a digestive enzyme provided by a third party was contaminated with the antibiotic.
"Safety is paramount to us at Vega," Chang declared in a video posted on YouTube. "Chloramphenicol is a natural antibiotic found in nature and has been used worldwide as a treatment for typhoid fever. Even today, it's commonly used in the treatment of eye infections."
He added that digestive enzymes account for less than one percent of the total formula in Vega shakes.
Health Canada has asked wholesalers, distributors, and retailers to "voluntarily hold on to any Vega One Vanilla Chai and Vega Sport Performance Chocolate currently in their possession".
Vega has refused Health Canada's request to recall the products.
Vega's plant-based shakes were developed by vegan Ironman triathlete and author Brendan Brazier, a native of North Vancouver.
To hear Chang's full statement, see the video below: