Another "happy coffee" containing a speed-like drug has popped up in New Zealand through an American multi-level marketing operation, despite MedSafe and MPI warnings about similar products last year.
1 NEWS reported on two other "diet" coffee products last year - Valentus and Elevacity - containing phenethylamine, which is also known as PEA.
PEA is a strong central nervous system stimulant and it is considered a Class C controlled drug in New Zealand.
In October, MedSafe published a statement from Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield warning that PEA could have negative effects, and advising anyone who had bought products containing PEA to dispose of them.
"These substances have amphetamine-like characteristics and may have similar adverse reactions such as: agitation and psychological effects; cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, and neurological effects," the warning said.
The Ministry of Primary Industries also warned that "enforcement action" was a possibility if foods containing illegal substances were sold here.
Despite those warnings, a new brand of "happy coffee" is being sold by and to Kiwis through another multi-level marketing company - Lurralife - which sells LurraFit Coffee online and ships it to New Zealand from overseas.
'NO HIDDEN TOXIC CHEMICALS'
According LurraLife's website, LurraFit Coffee contains PEA, and costs about NZ$60 for a 120g tub.
The coffee also contains eria jarensis extract, which comes from a type of orchid in which another PEA-like substance, N-Phenethyl Dimethylamine, occurs naturally.
The World Anti-Doping Agency lists PEA and similar substances as prohibited for professional athletes.
The LurraFit website carries a number of disclaimers for the coffee, including that it is "not recommended for use if you are at risk or being treated for high blood pressure, stroke, heart, kidney, thyroid or psychiatric disease, anxiety, depression, or seizure disorders".
LurraLife, which is based in the United States, was approached for comment. An employee of the company confirmed it had received the query, and said it was being "revised by our executive team", but the company has not responded to repeated follow up queries over the course of a week.
'I HAVE MADE SALES HERE'
1 NEWS has seen evidence of one Kiwi apparently doing a roaring trade in LurraLife products, including their "happy coffee".
In a now-deleted post, the woman claimed to have reached LurraLife's "Global Ambassador" rank, which requires thousands of dollars in sales for weeks in a row, according to the LurraLife website.
The woman has now complained on her Facebook page about being "reported to the media", while also removing a number of posts linking her with LurraLife.
When contacted by 1 NEWS, she said: "Yes, I have made sales here". But she insisted "95 per cent of my distributors and customers are in the USA where PEA is legal.
"I've done a lot of research on it and it's helping so many people overseas with autoimmune and depression and anxiety," she said.
"I can't make medical claims though. However it has been the experience from a lot of my customers."
The woman is one of several administrators of a private Facebook group called "Living the Lurra Life NZ/Aus/Global", which has almost 5000 members, and has been in operation since July of 2018.
1 NEWS requested access to the group, but was declined, and then blocked from finding it. The woman denied blocking the attempt to join, before saying: "I will be terminating our conversation".
MEDSAFE 'CONCERNED' ABOUT CONTINUING SALE OF PEA
A MedSafe spokesperson said they are "aware of the issue" and "looking into the matter further".
"It's concerning to hear of reports that products containing the controlled drug phenethylamine may still be being sold."
Ministry for Primary Industries Director of Compliance Service Gary Orr said MPI is working with MedSafe "to check whether these products are for sale in New Zealand and if these are safe and suitable for consumers.
"If there are any concerns identified, we will take appropriate steps, including advising consumers of our concerns, removing the product from sale and/or taking other enforcement action," Mr Orr said.
It is not permitted for products classed as food and containing illegal substances to be sold in New Zealand.
"The rules about sale depend on the classification of product - specifically whether it is a food or a dietary supplement - if a product is outside the rules for food and is classified as a drug, it could be destroyed and the operator could face criminal charges."