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Council concerned over wide variances in spore breakage rate of lingzhi products - CHOICE # 375 (January 15, 2008)

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Are products of lingzhi sporeslingzhi sporesas good as their manufacturers' claim?

One claim seemingly universal among the manufacturers is the assertion over the breakage rate of the spores - that each and every spore and its wall are fully broken or cracked open purportedly to maximize the efficacy of the product.

The Consumer Council has conducted a laboratory test in response to enquiries about its authenticity from consumers able to pay dearly to purchase this legendary Chinese elixir of life.

Without exception, all 16 lingzhi spore samples under investigation bore similarly claims of "fully wall-broken", or "breakage rate of 99%" or the like.

Under the powerful magnification of light microscope, the ultra fine lingzhi spores contained in the capsules revealed, however, in not a few cases, quite a drastically different picture.

Of the 16 samples, only half (8) were able to achieve over 90% in the spore breakage rate.

Among these high score samples, one sample actually attained a total 100% while another a close 99%.

Of the 8 remainders, on the lower end of the scale, the worst performer had a breakage rate of the spores as low as only 5%.

One sample was detected with between 10% and 20% while another with 50%.

Currently there is no law or standard on what constitutes "fully wall-broken".

The Consumer Council is concerned over the wide variances found in the spore breakage rate of these products.

Increasingly, spore breakage rate is promoted as an important factor in selecting lingzhi spore products.

Manufacturers are claiming that the active ingredients are more readily released from broken spores than non-broken ones and, therefore, more easily absorbed by consumers in taking them.

Consumers, however, are at a loss to differentiate the products all bearing similar claim on the spore breakage rate.

In addition, 6 of the samples were claimed to be "pure" lingzhi spore products but this turned out not to be the case.

Under light microscope, many of the 16 samples were found to contain more than just the spores but also other materials, like hyphae, germlings and filling materials. But these ingredients were often not disclosed for the information of consumers.

Further, vitamin E was found present in 5 of the samples. According to the manufacturers, the vitamin was added to act as a preservative. However, none of the samples concerned were labelled with vitamin E on their ingredient list.

The samples were also checked for the accuracy in the labelling of their capsule weight and content weight. One sample was found to be much lower, by over 20%, than the weight claimed.

Besides the 16 lingzhi spore samples, the test included 4 models of lingzhi spore oil products.

One of the samples was found to be spoiled, i.e. the oil was oxidized.

The Consumer Council has notified both the Customs and Excise Department and the Department of Health of the overall test findings.

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