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New publication documents adulteration of aloevera leaf gel and juice with undeclared maltodextrin and ingredients from other Aloe species

AUSTIN,Texas (June 19, 2019) — The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants PreventionProgram (BAPP) announces the publication of a new Botanical Adulterants Prevention Bulletin (BAPB) on aloevera (Aloe vera)leaf gel- and juice-derived ingredients.


Liquids andgels (often dried into powders) obtained from the leaf of aloe vera are widelyused as ingredients in dietary supplement, personal care, and cosmeticproducts. In addition, aloe vera leaf juice ingredients for internalconsumption are popular in the food and beverage industry. The total globalmarket value of aloe vera leaf gel (as an ingredient for all types of products)was estimated at US $507 million in 2017. 

Aloe veraleaf gel and juice are known to be rich in polysaccharides (complex sugars),most importantly acemannan and pectic polysaccharides. These large moleculesare difficult to analyze by chromatographic techniques commonly used inanalytical laboratories, and therefore are often measured using unspecificmethods such as spectrophotometry or conductivity (measuring the total amountof ions). Fraudulent suppliers have taken advantage of these non-specific testmethods to substitute or dilute the aloe polysaccharides with lower-costcarbohydrates such as maltodextrin (a food additive usually derived from corn [Zea mays]) or sucrose(common table sugar). 

The newbulletin, written by Ezra Bejar, PhD, an expert in botanical research in SanDiego, California, lists the known adulterants, summarizes current analyticalapproaches to detect adulterants, and provides information on the nomenclature,supply chain, and market importance of aloe vera. It also discusses safetyaspects of the known adulterants. The BAPB was reviewed by 27 experts from thenonprofit research sector, trade organizations, and the herb industry. 

StefanGafner, PhD, chief science officer of the nonprofit American Botanical Council(ABC) and the technical director of BAPP, commented: “Aloe vera leaf juice is avery popular ingredient with many applications. The use of reconstituted aloevera juice from a 200x concentrated powder is of particular interest forcompanies in the personal care and cosmetic sector, since it provides a meansto replace water as the most predominant ingredient by volume (which by law hasto be listed as the first ingredient on the label), giving the product theappearance of a higher quality. Costs for 200x concentrated aloe leaf powderare between US $225-305 per kilogram, so there is a financial incentive forunethical suppliers to substitute the aloe leaf powder with lower-costcarbohydrates.”

“Manyexperts in the herbal industry have known for a long time that some aloematerials are adulterated,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executivedirector of ABC and the founder and director of BAPP. “Because many aloematerials are in liquid or gel form, it is relatively easy for unethical aloeproducers to ‘stretch’ the aloe material by adding low-cost liquids and varioustypes of sugars (carbohydrates) to the ingredients to increase profits. By providingthis bulletin to responsible members of the herb, personal care, and cosmeticindustries, BAPP hopes to reduce the amount of cheap, adulterated, andpresumably ineffective aloe materials going into consumer products.”

The aloe vera bulletin is the 18th publicationin the series of BAPBs and the 51st peer-reviewed publication published byBAPP. As with all publications in the Program, the BAPBs are freely accessibleto all ABC members, registered users of the ABC website, and all members of thepublic on the Program’s website (registration required). 




TheABC-AHP (American Herbal Pharmacopoeia)-NCNPR (National Center for NaturalProducts Research at the University of Mississippi) Botanical AdulterantsPrevention Program is an international consortium of nonprofit professionalorganizations, analytical laboratories, research centers, industry tradeassociations, industry members, and other parties with interest in herbs andmedicinal plants. The Program advises industry, researchers, healthprofessionals, government agencies, the media, and the public about the variouschallenges related to adulterated botanical ingredients sold in commerce. Todate, more than 200 United States and international parties have financiallysupported or otherwise endorsed the Program.

To date, the Programhas published 51 extensively peer-reviewed articles, Botanical AdulterantsPrevention Bulletins, Laboratory Guidance Documents, and Botanical AdulterantsMonitor e-newsletters. All of the Program’s publications are freely availableon the Program’s website (registration required).