FDA Decommissions “Poisonous Plant Database”

Fresh onions, good harvest, vegetables so close

Silver Spring, MD—FDA has decommissioned the “Poisonous Plant Database” after years of requests by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), according to an AHPA press release.

The system was presented as an online source for scientific references describing toxic properties and effects attributed to plants or plant parts, although AHPA notes that many of the studies included were performed on purified compounds, or reported harm to grazing animals. Due to the database’s scope, it ended up with entries on plants such as onions, garlic, broccoli, and lettuce, as well as several herbs and other botanicals used in supplements that are not poisonous, AHPA says.

While FDA stopped updating the database in May 2008, it remained visible and linked across multiple parts of FDA’s website, and database entries could be found via internet searches.

AHPA contends that consumers and industry members encountering the database could erroneously conclude that listed plants were dangerous or federally restricted. As such, AHPA requested in 2017 and multiple times since that FDA revise the database name and provide stronger disclaimers regarding the poisonous nature of included plants.

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FDA has now decommissioned the database, and is in the process of removing links and references to the database from the FDA website. AHPA requests that anyone who finds a link to the database that should be removed email Robert Marriott, AHPA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, at rmarriott@ahpa.org.

The site location will remain, but will direct consumers to appropriate resources regarding toxic plant exposure, such as the American Association of Poison Control Centers.