Does anyone still remember Slim10?
The notorious dieting pill, produced by a manufacturer in China, led to various cases of thyroid problems, liver failure and even deaths throughout Asia among people who had consumed it. 2 harmful substances (fenfluramine and nicotinamide) were later detected, as well as traces of 2 other banned substances (thyroxine and triiodothyronine); all of which were not listed in the ingredients list submitted to HSA.
Now, I want you to take a close look at what happened to the distributors who were responsible for selling the pills:
Now, you would think Singaporeans would have learnt to be more careful of diet pills by now, much less the ones that are sold online instead of through a reputable healthcare or medical store, but apparently that’s not the case.
With the rise of lifestyle influencers marketing slimming pills and consumables on their Instagram, I can’t help but wonder whether these products are TRULY safe, and what’s to happen should anyone end up being harmed by them. After all, we now know that distributor liability cannot be really established in Singapore after the Slim10 case, so it is more crucial that consumers be aware and informed of what they’re really getting into.
I was going to stay out of this, but it has been MONTHS since the issue was first raised to me by a concerned reader, and still no one has done any expose or a further investigation into the safety concerns of the slimming products that are increasingly marketed on Instagram.
The marketing tactics that are employed to sell this products are disgustingly similar – you’ll find it on the influencers’ Instagram Stories, where it disappears after 24 hours (unless they pin it as their profile highlights)…therefore leaving no trace or evidence that they ever promoted or sold it.
The problem also lies in HOW these slimming products are being promoted and sold by none other than mummy influencers themselves, who generally tend to enjoy higher trust among their followers who believe that they will not recommend or consume anything that could harm themselves or their babies. These influencers are pushing out claims that the products are absolutely safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding mums, even when there is hardly any concrete evidence to prove so. This is emotional marketing at its best, guys.
Thankfully no lives have been lost, and no foetuses / babies have been harmed so far from the mothers who consumed these slimming products (or at least, none whom I know of), but could it be because it is still too early to tell?
I took a deeper look into these products that the influencers are selling and here’s my take on it:
1. So, did HSA approve this product or not?
@charlottekiew states that the product is HSA-approved, going so far as to show a screenshot of the HSA document as evidence to back up her claims.
But, let’s see what was covered up behind her edits…
“This letter is not to be construed as an endorsement / approval of the product TREMELLA-DX”. Yes, now we can see the full statement behind what was covered by the huge “DM to order!”.
At least one reader of hers believed Charlotte’s claims that it was indeed HSA-approved and thus absolutely safe for consumption and sale in Singapore, but eventually found out it was false (and provided me with the screenshots above and below for the purpose of this piece to warn people).
Edit: Charlotte Kiew wishes to clarify that she actually posted both the version with the HSA-approved edit and the full one without on her IG stories (although no one could provide evidence that she did post the full one as well, and she herself was unable to provide such proof when I asked her for it to support her claim), and took it down after she was alerted that it isn’t HSA-approved after all. What I don’t understand, however, is that did she NOT read the full letter then, and that was it purely a coincidence that her edits seemed to deliberately cover up the part that says it isn’t a HSA approval? My full version of the HSA statement was provided to me by the reader above, and not from Charlotte herself.
Charlotte also demanded that I write to include how she says HSA is not in charge of approving such products in the first place (which is nothing new, and I’ve mentioned it previously during the Beautiful Teeth Whitening Kit expose before as well).
2. Contradictory statements on whether this product is safe for pregnant mothers
One seller specifically highlights that the product is prohibited for consumption by pregnant women, whereas @charlottekiew and @vannytelly believe and claim that it is safe for expecting and nursing mums.
Compare these contradicting claims and decide for yourself:
Edit: Charlotte has clarified that she was only reproducing the info that was given to her. and that she herself is taking it as well. However, she later on goes on her IG Stories to rebut a reader’s message that she has never once said it was safe for breastfeeding mums when questioned.
3. Formulated in Japan…but manufactured in? Malaysia?
In case you’re wondering, the ingredients listed are: water, mixed berry powder (strawberry, cranberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry), tremella powder (a white fungus), wheatgrass, pumpkin fruit powder, dandelion, green tea, xanthan gum.
I quote the below excerpt from Diet Pills Watchdog, which has done a fabulous write-up on this:
Tremella DX+ claims to offer 30 benefits in one, when in reality it struggles to offer customers a single benefit that we could find. Any claims that this oral yoghurt can bleach or lighten skin is preposterous, and had us checking and re-checking the advertising materials to see whether we had misread. There is also virtually nothing in this product that can help customers lose weight.What makes this version different from the original Tremella DX is the use of glutathione, which is used throughout the body in many healthy functions. Unfortunately, the form that this antioxidant has been presented in is not easily absorbed by the body, making this another strange and pointless inclusion in the formula.Tremella DX+ is available to buy for relatively low prices on convenient Malaysian online stores. The lowest price we found for a standard 16-sachet pack was 76 Malaysian Ringgitt (RM) – this is around US$17.50. Although Tremella DX+ is claimed to be Japanese in origin, our research implies that the product is made in Malaysia by and for the Chinese market. The product’s unclear ownership means that it is sold mainly by independent distributors, many of whom have probably been scammed themselves into buying useless stock. We do not recommend Tremella DX+ to our readers.
4. Does it make sense that the HSA letter was issued in 2015 when the distributor was only incorporated as a company in 2016?
My guess is that the HSA letter was for Tremella DX, but what the influencers were selling was Tremella DX+ which is an “improved” version of it.
5. Many consumers have complained about severe tummy pains after having eaten Tremella DX+.
However, please note that any kind of food or even health supplements work differently for everyone so this is not an indication that if you were to take Tremella DX+, you’ll encounter the same effects. Nonetheless, it is worrying to see so many people complaining of the same symptoms.
Meizi slimming pills aka 美资玲珑素 (or 美資玲瓏素)
This has recently been promoted and sold by influencers @charlottekiew , @shanelkiehls and @kimora.x who have a combined total follower count of nearly 100,000, where all three had encouraged their followers to DM them to order.
Screenshots taken from @kimora.x Instagram highlights
1. Look at it being packaged in ziplock bags.
A previous screenshot featured a photo which Shanel had posted on her Instagram of her daughter with the Meizi pills. However, Shanel has reached out to ask (or might I say, DEMAND) that I replace it with the above photo for the ziplock image instead. I agreed to do so although she was incredibly rude and even resorted to insulting me while making her
2. Is it really safe? What are the ingredients in the pills?
Aside from claims that it is made from purely vegetarian and herbal ingredients, I was only able to find the purported main ingredients (but that doesn’t tell us anything about whether there could be any other ingredients or traces of harmful substances in it): hemp seed flour, fructose, aloe vera gel freeze-dried powder, sorbitol, soybean dietary fibre, cassia seed powder, celery fibre.
|@charlottekiew has since removed all traces of her selling Meizi on her Instagram
The above email screenshot is a part of an email thread on Meizi Ling Long Su pills that was brought to HSA’s attention. We did not expect CNB to get involved, and I’m not quite sure if this means hemp products would all be classified as such.
Edit: The image is not to be misconstrued or taken as an indication in any way that the three influencers involved were selling drugs, as I still cannot be sure what the slimming pill is classified as.
3. So, did HSA approve this product or not?
Another reader and I was unable to find any mentions of the product on HSA’s website while trying to find out if the medicine was even registered for sale, so that HSA can easily take action if there are complaints regarding the pill. We were not able to find any. If you do, please let me know!
WoWo Collagen Jelly
Most of you should be well aware of the entire controversy surrounding WoWo products by now, but aside from the numerous WoWo distributors, there are 2 well-known mummy bloggers and influencers who are also promoting the jelly – @vannytelly (yes, her again) and @bongqiuqiu
1. Firstly, why is it so pink?! Were artificial colourings used?
Many of the influencers promoting this only mentioned that it is made from bird nest and collagen, but a further search led me to this full list shared by a seller on Shopee:
A5 premium grade Indo bird’s nest, collagen peptides, collagen powder, soya peptide powder, wolf berries, lily bulbs, deep sea collagen extracts, gelatinum asini.
I don’t really see how any of the above ingredients would have led to such a bright pink colour in the jelly, leading me to believe that either (i) some sort of chemical reaction occurred to produce this hue or (ii) there are more unnamed ingredients that we don’t know of, and who knows if they are harmful?
2. Miraculous marketing claims!!! This product cures all!
If you even believe their claims that eating this collagen jelly will help you to make your breasts bigger, stabilise your menstruation cycle, improve constipation, build up your immune system, lightens pigmentation and acne scars, etc…
Yes, they’re claiming this ONE product can do that much. Lol.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t see how the ingredients can actually achieve such miraculous effects. I don’t believe it one bit!
3. Misleading claims by several WoWo sellers online that they are “HSA approved”.
Please read this brilliant investigation by Daily Vanity here where they state that they’ve successfully managed to get a statement from HSA proving the claims of “HSA approved” and “passing HSA checks” essentially never happened. (sidenote: I emailed HSA with similar screenshots and concerns on 17 April leh why HSA never reply me?!? -.-)
Bong Qiu Qiu also said previously on her IG Live that they are not HSA approved because there’s no such thing, and that she wouldn’t personally recommend the product for breastfeeding or pregnant mums, so that’s good on her. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for many of the numerous WoWo distributors online and I’m glad HSA is now following up with the companies involved.
- There has been an increasing number of influencers, specifically mummy bloggers, who are promoting and selling slimming pills / drinks / consumables on their Instagram Stories, where the post disappears after 24 hours without a trace.
- The said influencers mentioned in this post includes @vannytelly , @charlottekiew, @shanelkiehls , @kimora.x and @bongqiuqiu , but there could be more that I’m not aware of as these are the main 5 that readers have escalated to me due to their concerns over potential misrepresentation and safety issues.
- The selling tactics generally focus on how it is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mums, when there is little evidence to prove so. (Edit: with the exception of QiuQiu who had said on her IG Live that she wouldn’t recommend it for these 2 groups.) Some sellers may even go so far as to claim that it is HSA-approved (not at all), or even offer guaranteed refunds in the event of no result.
- Perhaps the influencers knew nothing about the red flags I’ve highlighted in this post on the products, nor do they know if there are indeed harmful or banned substances, because they merely shared based on the information they received. But one’s ignorance doesn’t negate the fact that the product one is selling could be potentially harmful.
- As we learnt from the Slim10 saga, it is difficult to attribute liability to distributors of such slimming products, even if they are eventually found to contain trace elements of harmful of banned substances. And yes, even if the pills harm you or cause any deaths due to consumption, it is unlikely that the distributors (or the influencers in this case) will be held legally responsible.
- If a slimming product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- You should probably also never buy any questionable product online or directly from someone whom you barely know, especially if you cannot confirm the safety of the product or its full ingredients list.
HSA has repeatedly told Singaporeans to be wary of buying slimming products online. In September last year alone, HSA seized over 39,000 units of illegal health products, many which were weight-loss products ranging from pills to beverages, and were labelled with claims such as “100 percent natural”, “herbal ingredients” and “quick effect”.
Do you see a glaring similarity here?
Remember, even if anything detrimental happens to you because you ate these slimming products sold to you by the influencers…they will probably walk away scot-free with no legal liability.
Your health is your own. Do what you deem fit, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
And pregnant / breastfeeding mums, please, I urge you to play safe rather than be sorry when it comes to these sort of slimming supplements. Don’t let your moment of vanity become a lifelong regret.
Note: All screenshots in this article have been contributed and sent to me by my various readers. I do not claim credit for them, but the watermark is essential after I was recently a victim of a major news website seemingly plagiarising my article and attempting to pass it off as their own.
Warning: To Mothership.sg, if you DARE to plagiarise my story without proper credits, YOU WILL FACE LEGAL ACTION.