Detecting Fake Cinnamon with Advanced Analytical Techniques

Greg Howard
17th January, 2024

Detecting Fake Cinnamon with Advanced Analytical Techniques

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Cinnamon, a widely used spice, is famed not only for its flavor but also for its health benefits, particularly the variant known as Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon, which is true cinnamon, stands out because it is packed with eugenol, an antioxidant, and contains very low levels of coumarin, which in larger amounts could potentially harm the liver. Unfortunately, its high value makes it a target for adulteration with cheaper cinnamon types such as Cassia and Saigon. To combat potential fraud, scientists have developed a high-performance liquid chromatography technique utilizing ultraviolet detection (HPLC-UV) to identify and measure four key cinnamon compounds: eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, coumarin, and cinnamic acid. This analytical method isn't just a one-trick pony; it also uses a statistical tool called Partial Least Squares (PLS) to verify the authenticity of the cinnamon type and to pinpoint and calculate the extent of adulteration in samples. To put this method to the test, researchers made their own concoctions in the laboratory, blending different cinnamon powders presumed to be pure samples of Ceylon, Cassia, or Saigon cinnamon. Their findings were promising; the method they used could successfully and clearly distinguish Ceylon cinnamon from its cheaper counterparts. Additionally, it allowed for accurate measurements of the mix of Ceylon and non-Ceylon cinnamons in commercial samples, with a very low margin of error for both the calibration and validation sets. These results shed some light on the potential of using HPLC-UV as a reliable way to assure consumers they're getting the real Ceylon cinnamon, safeguarding them from unintentional ingestion of higher coumarin levels and preserving the integrity of a beloved spice.

BiochemPlant ScienceSpices


Main Study

1) Application of HPLC-UV combined with chemometrics for the detection and quantification of 'true cinnamon' adulteration.

Published 17th January, 2024

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