Indena reports new technique for bilberry purity standards

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: High performance liquid chromatography, Anthocyanin, Bilberry

Only 15 per cent of commercial bilberry extracts actually contain
sufficient quantities of the active anthocyanin to have a
physiological effect, according to new research from Italy.

Moreover, ten per cent of the products do not even contain the active principle anthocyanin, according to a survey of 40 typical bilberry preparations from 24 different brands from Europe, Japan and America evaluated by researchers from Indena, using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). "Furthermore, all the products exhibit labels which are not clear and often not true,"​ wrote the researchers in the Journal of AOAC International​. "Hence, there is an urgent need for common standards of quality for bilberry preparations in order to ensure their efficacy and safety. The application of the present method together with clear information on the labels is desirable to enhance the security and confidence of the consumers." ​ Concerns were first raised last year when Australian scientists discovered that azo dyes were used to mimic the colour of bilberries in a commercial product (J. Agric. Food Chem​ 2006, Vol. 54, Issue 19, pp. 7378 -7382). This has since expanded to reports of mulberry or black bean skins being used to increase the anthocyanin content of the extracts. The anthocyanins content is used as the standard for bilberry, and UV spectrometry is needed to verify the 25 per cent anthocyanins. However, according to unconfirmed reports, this has led to extracts masquerading as bilberry but actually containing mulberry (22-24 per cent), or black bean skin (20 per cent). The Australian study from 2006 reported that, when high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used, one extract was found to contain nine per cent anthocyanins that were "probably not derived from [bilberry]". Researchers from Indena reported the use of the new technique to identify and quantify anthocyanins and anthocyanidins in the commercial extracts and products. They report that the method shows good reproducibility and is suitable to identify unequivocally the botanical raw materials used. According to the researchers, the method has been included in several Pharmacopoeias, including the European and Italian editions, and is under evaluation in the USA. "In order to unequivocally identify and quantify the profile of a botanical extract, Indena has always developed and validated analytical methods, which are recognised as reliable and reproducible,"​ said co-author Roberto Pace, Indena's analytical research director. "With this study we have highlighted how the use of validated analytical methods to determine identity can be successfully applied to single or multi-component formulations,"​ he added. Commenting on these results, Christian Artaria, marketing director at Indena, confirmed that: "Indena has always strived to ensure that the production of botanical derivatives respects Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)…"We believe that the introduction and correct application of the new GMPs in the U.S, together with the use of officially validated analytical methods, will at last ensure high quality dietary products." ​ Indeed, only 65 per cent of products sold in the United States contained ingredients that matched what was declared on the label, said the researchers. Source: Journal of AOAC International​ Volume 90, Issue 4, Pages 911-919 "New Liquid Chromatography Method with Ultraviolet Detection for Analysis of Anthocyanins and Anthocyanidins in Vaccinium myrtillus Fruit Dry Extracts and Commercial Preparations" ​Authors: C. Cassinese, E. De Combarieu, M. Falzoni, N. Fuzzati, R. Pace, N. Sardone

Related topics: Research, Polyphenols, Botanicals

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