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Aloe Vera Bulletin Published by Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program
New publication documents adulteration of aloe vera leaf gel and juice with undeclared maltodextrin and ingredients from other Aloe species
AUSTIN, Texas (June 19, 2019) — The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP) announces the publication of a new Botanical Adulterants Prevention Bulletin (BAPB) on aloe vera (Aloe vera) leaf gel- and juice-derived ingredients.
Liquids and gels (often dried into powders) obtained from the leaf of aloe vera are widely used as ingredients in dietary supplement, personal care, and cosmetic products. In addition, aloe vera leaf juice ingredients for internal consumption are popular in the food and beverage industry. The total global market value of aloe vera leaf gel (as an ingredient for all types of products) was estimated at US $507 million in 2017.
Aloe vera leaf gel and juice are known to be rich in polysaccharides (complex sugars), most importantly acemannan and pectic polysaccharides. These large molecules are difficult to analyze by chromatographic techniques commonly used in analytical laboratories, and therefore are often measured using unspecific methods such as spectrophotometry or conductivity (measuring the total amount of ions). Fraudulent suppliers have taken advantage of these non-specific test methods to substitute or dilute the aloe polysaccharides with lower-cost carbohydrates such as maltodextrin (a food additive usually derived from corn [Zea mays]) or sucrose (common table sugar).
The new bulletin, written by Ezra Bejar, PhD, an expert in botanical research in San Diego, California, lists the known adulterants, summarizes current analytical approaches to detect adulterants, and provides information on the nomenclature, supply chain, and market importance of aloe vera. It also discusses safety aspects of the known adulterants. The BAPB was reviewed by 27 experts from the nonprofit research sector, trade organizations, and the herb industry.
Stefan Gafner, PhD, chief science officer of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) and the technical director of BAPP, commented: “Aloe vera leaf juice is a very popular ingredient with many applications. The use of reconstituted aloe vera juice from a 200x concentrated powder is of particular interest for companies in the personal care and cosmetic sector, since it provides a means to replace water as the most predominant ingredient by volume (which by law has to be listed as the first ingredient on the label), giving the product the appearance of a higher quality. Costs for 200x concentrated aloe leaf powder are between US $225-305 per kilogram, so there is a financial incentive for unethical suppliers to substitute the aloe leaf powder with lower-cost carbohydrates.”
“Many experts in the herbal industry have known for a long time that some aloe materials are adulterated,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC and the founder and director of BAPP. “Because many aloe materials are in liquid or gel form, it is relatively easy for unethical aloe producers to ‘stretch’ the aloe material by adding low-cost liquids and various types of sugars (carbohydrates) to the ingredients to increase profits. By providing this bulletin to responsible members of the herb, personal care, and cosmetic industries, BAPP hopes to reduce the amount of cheap, adulterated, and presumably ineffective aloe materials going into consumer products.”
The aloe vera bulletin is the 18th publication in the series of BAPBs and the 51st peer-reviewed publication published by BAPP. As with all publications in the Program, the BAPBs are freely accessible to all ABC members, registered users of the ABC website, and all members of the public on the Program’s website (registration required).