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Kratom Importers Beware: The FDA Has Developed A New Handheld Device Which Can Be Used By Customs To Instantly Detect Kratom

Kratom import

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) war on Kratom continues. The FDA’s Forensic Chemistry Center has developed a new handheld device that instantly detects Kratom, and this is seriously bad news for Kratom importers, since the FDA probably intends to give this device to U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as international mail service providers like DHL, USPS, UPS, and FedEx in order to put a dent in Kratom imports. Indeed, the conclusion of this FDA study says “This device is ideal for field use at international mail facility satellite laboratories to help interdict kratom and prevent this dangerous product from reaching the U.S. supply chain.”

Specifically, this new FDA device is described in a scientific study titled ‘Detection of Mitragynine in Mitragyna Speciosa (Kratom) Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy with Handheld Devices‘. It was found that this handheld Kratom detector was extremely accurate. 1,000 samples were analyzed, and some of these contained Kratom while some had no Kratom. Ultimately, the device was able to detect Kratom 99.3% of the time, with a relatively small false positive and false negative rate of 2.1% and 0.7% respectively.

Further, the device was able to detect Mitragynine at concentrations as low as 342 parts per billion (PPB), and therefore this device would be able to detect Mitragynine in even the weakest possible Kratom, since Kratom generally has a Mitragynine content of 1-2 parts per hundredth, i.e. 1%-2%.

This is a big problem, since technically it is prohibited to import Kratom into the United States due to an FDA import alert against Kratom. Basically, no matter if Kratom is legal in the area where a Kratom vendor resides, their Kratom can still be seized at the border just because of the FDA import alert, and indeed tons of Kratom imports are seized every year at the border.

That being said, Kratom vendors have been able to find clever work arounds to importing Kratom, but this handheld device will make it much harder. Now if Customs suspects a package is Kratom, they can test it instantly and then seize it, as opposed to before where a lab test was an expensive ordeal that took days to complete, and therefore Customs was probably not so motivated to test all powders and organic materials that resembled Kratom.

All of this being said, there is no official word about when or if these handheld Kratom detectors will be deployed by Customs and international mail service providers, so this article is just speculation. It is perhaps possible that these devices will never even be deployed, but of course it is also possible that they will be deployed at every import checkpoint along the United States border. 

In any case, this is information that all Kratom importers need to be aware of, since these devices could make importing Kratom harder than ever before.

On a final note, the FDA Kratom import alert is unjust and damages legitimate Kratom vendors, and also causes Kratom prices to be higher across the United States in addition to limiting Kratom variety, which is detrimental for Kratom users in the United States. The FDA Kratom import alert should be repealed, and it is disheartening to see that the FDA is doubling down on banning Kratom imports instead of easing restrictions.