The owner of a herbal drinks store in Guangzhou was sentenced to six months in jail with a one-year reprieve on Monday for adding cough and cold relieving Western medicines to his products.
The store owner, surnamed Wang, was also fined 150,000 yuan (,875) for producing and selling poisonous and harmful food by Guangzhou Yuexiu District People's Court.
Wang added powder from medication capsules containing paracetamol, which is used to treat pain and fever, and chlorphenamine maleate, which is used to prevent the symptoms of allergic conditions, to herbal drinks and sold the drinks between June 25 and Aug 5 last year, Guangzhou Daily reported.
The defendant argued that herbal tea is used to treat symptoms and the capsules he used are all over-the-counter medicines, which are not poisonous or harmful.
The court, however, ruled that herbal drinks have traditional Chinese medicines but are not TCMs themselves, like food cooked with TCM ingredients.
Herbal drinks are used for health improving purposes not medical treatment and are classified as food, according to the definition under the country's food safety law.
They are treated as food in terms of production and sales supervision, and statistical compilation on consumer spending, and listed as traditional handicrafts in the country's intangible cultural heritage list.
Ingredients considered as both foods and TCMs can be added to food products, but not medicines.
The capsules Wang used are medicines and are prohibited from being used in food, the court ruled.