Wednesday, November 23, 2016

You can use NMR to track aloe vera contents - who knew?

Credit: Process NMR Associates
Via the Chemistry Reddit, an interesting bit of consumer news from Bloomberg's Lydia Mulvany
and Zeke Faux:
...Aloe’s three chemical markers — acemannan, malic acid and glucose — were absent in the tests for Wal-Mart, Target and CVS products conducted by a lab hired by Bloomberg News. The three samples contained a cheaper element called maltodextrin, a sugar sometimes used to imitate aloe. The gel that’s sold at another retailer, Walgreens, contained one marker, malic acid, but not the other two. That means the presence of aloe can’t be confirmed or ruled out, said Ken Jones, an independent industry consultant based in Chapala, Mexico.... 
...The tests used a technique called nuclear magnetic resonance. It found additives such as maltodextrin and other ingredients, like triethanolamine, an emulsifier. In all the samples, lactic acid, a component that indicates degraded aloe vera, was absent.
I was rather skeptical of this, but lo and behold, some Nestle co-workers demonstrated this was possible in 2005. Also, here's this wonderfully rich NMR blog (that I was sadly unaware of) by Process NMR Associates LLC that has some very nice spectra of aloe vera that shows it is quite possible to distinguish the varying components of aloe vera.

Note: I, for one, strongly support the idea of reporters purchasing the services of chemists to check products for quality and authenticity.

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