Leicester

Horse tranquiliser ketamine found in aloe vera drink

Officials in Leicester are investigating how a health drink which left two women ill became contaminated with a horse tranquiliser.

Analysis of the aloe vera-based health drink revealed it contained the powerful drug ketamine.

Two women in Leicester who needed hospital treatment after drinking the juice are now recovering.

Ketamine is used by veterinarians as a tranquiliser but can also be used on humans as an anaesthetic.

One of the women, a 60-year-old Leicester grandmother, is still in hospital but a family friend said she was recovering well after being in a coma.

A 45-year-old woman who was ill after drinking the juice was discharged from hospital on Sunday afternoon.

A police spokesman said hospital tests have indicated the patients may have suffered from ketamine poisoning.

Yellow juice

Forensic tests are still being conducted and the final analysis will not be known for some time.

Leicestershire Health Protection Agency said there was only one outlet in Leicester which had bottles of the product and that stock had been seized.

Eighteen bottles were handed over to the police for forensic examination.

The Health Food Manufacturers' Association said aloe vera juice was yellow in colour and urged consumers who were unsure about the content of an aloe vera juice product to seek further advice.

Health Protection Agency spokesman Philip Monk said: "It is important that people check their shops to make sure they do not have this product and if they have contact the local police.

"We have bottles with that label [Gayatri] on which we know contain ketamine and the police will be working out how the ketamine got into them and indeed whether they came from the manufacturer - they may be completely fake products."

Shopkeeper Anil Patel said a package containing the health drink had been delivered to him by mistake, but he had not sold any of the product.

Gayatri, the Indian company that produces the aloe vera drink, said it was shocked by what had happened.

The firm said it had never actually exported any of the drink to the UK and had not had any contact from the authorities in Leicester about the product.

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