cup of coffee on white background
July 21, 2017

Coffee recalled because it contains a Viagra-like ingredient 

Coffee is supposed to perk you up in the morning, but one particular brand containing a Viagra-like ingredient might give consumers more of a boost than they bargained for. The product has been voluntarily recalled because of the addition.

The ingredient was discovered by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Herbs Coffee, made by a company in North Texas. Bestherbs Coffee LLC is now voluntarily recalling any of the coffee sold between July 2014 and June 2016.

An FDA investigation uncovered the presence of desmethyl carbodenafil, which is structurally similar to the active ingredient in Viagra - sildenafil. The FDA then announced that the company was undertaking the voluntary withdrawal due to "undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients and undeclared milk".

Potential health risks

While the coffee was marketed as a "male enhancement product", according to Time, the Viagra-like effects were not publicised, and the undeclared ingredients could cause serious health problems.

The FDA says the rogue ingredient "may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs, such as nitroglycerin, and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates.

"In addition, people who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product."

'Like tequila in Mexico'

Bestherbs Coffee owner Albert Yee told The Washington Post that coffee such as this is hugely popular in Malaysia, and that “There are whole streets of it, like tequila in Mexico.” Believing Americans would also like the product, he began an import business.

Similar coffees, Stiff Bull Herbal Coffee and Caverlo Natural Herbal Coffee, also previously faced recalls after FDA investigation. Both supposedly contained Tongkat Ali, the root of a tree found in Malaysian rain forests. The root has long been popular in some cultures for having a similar effect to Viagra.

Stiff Bull Herbal Coffee claimed that at some point along the production chain, desmethyl carbodenafil had been mixed into their product in order to cut down on high costs of the Tongkat Ali, which is difficult to obtain. It is also very possible that this is how Mr Yee ended up with coffee that was more similar to Viagra than he had intended.

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Image credit: Glen Carrie/Unsplash