Craigslist is great for furniture, bikes, books and sports swag. It’s pretty good for apartments and jobs. But for dating and massage services it can end badly.
What about kefir grains?
This recent ad (above) looks legit, probably some health nut looking to share the probiotic goodness while scoring a few entrepreneurial bucks. On the other hand, it could be some actual nut who spiked the grains with cyanide before licking a postage stamp.
Nope, you may not want to buy kefir grains on Craigslist, just as you wouldn’t buy vitamins, fish oils or beef jerky there. Statistically it is perhaps safer than getting in a car—the universal risk rationale—but why tempt the miniscule chance.
Kefir grains elsewhere online? A clean website somehow instills confidence though it shouldn’t. How should we be judging online products?
- Bigger may be better. Long-established and well-known companies may put more money into safety and quality control.
Most “health” products undergo minimal scrutiny. For example, one giant distributor in the field adds this disclaimer:
“…is not liable for any information provided on this Site with regard to recommendations regarding supplements for any health purposes. The products or claims made about specific nutrients or products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration…”
While not approved by the FDA, such ingredients should be Generally Recognized as Safe or GRAS.
According to Ivan Wasserman, counsel to IPA,
“For a substance to be GRAS, it must be generally recognized among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use. Importantly, FDA can, but is not required to, play a role in determining whether an ingredient is GRAS. Companies can make their own determination in what is known as a GRAS self-affirmation.”
So, as in most things, buyers beware. But don’t forego the health benefits of kefir out of fear. Many safe, high-quality products are available. Buy from familiar sites with lots of recommendations or buy a bottle already cultured at your local supermarket.
And when you do sell that dining room table on Craigslist, be safe. Some cities have safe zones near police departments with 24-video security where Craigslist buyers and sellers can trade. Sellers beware, too.