AHPA helps trade differentiate ‘true’ star anise from toxic Japanese variety

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has added analytical methods for the identification of star anise fruit (Illicium verum) to its Botanical Authentication Program to help firms distinguish it from the fruit of other Illicium species that are toxic, such as Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers to avoid teas brewed from star anise in 2003 after infants given tea made from Japanese star anise fell ill, said the AHPA.

The FDA did not identify the species of star anise implicated but did report that Japanese star anise has long been recognized as toxic in many countries and should be used for decorative purposes only, it added.

Chief science officer Dr Steven Dentali said: "Industry is quite capable of obtaining the genuine article ​[ie.‘true’ or ‘Chinese’ star anise], and adulteration of this ingredient appears to be exclusively at the retail level when the wrong species is chosen and used as a traditional remedy.”

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