Phytolab invests million in new analysis technology

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German plant extracts group Martin Bauer has invested more than €1
million in new technology for its research centre PhytoLab and
built a new 1600 square metre laboratory building as part of the
expansion, writes Dominique Patton.

The company claims that this recent investment, added to more than €3 million spent on the facility in the last two years, makes it Europe's leading centre for herbal compound analysis.

The new equipment gives the firm an edge in analysis for contaminants and toxic compounds such as aristolochic acid in plants used in traditional Chinese medicine.

PhytoLab​ has also acquired new technology that allowed it to establish a method of analysis for the highly toxic anisatin, found in certain varieties of star anise.

Other new instruments will be used to detect heavy metals and the nutritional and trace elements in plant extracts. Phytolab tests around 80,000 samples for the presence of heavy metals, mycotoxins and pesticides every year.

The new ICP-MS machine is capable of analysing more than ten elements at the same time in just a single measuring run, saving time and costs. Measuring for lead, cadmium, mercury, thallium, arsenic, copper, chromium and nickel can be done in just five minutes compared with three days needed in the past.

The company is also one of the few laboratories that can test Chinese medicinal plants, helping to establish this traditional medicine in Europe and improve its reputation after scares caused by adulterated plants and drugs.

In addition, PhytoLab has developed a suitable method of testing for anthraquinones, a carcinogenic substance found in the leaves of the noni fruit tree.

With recent entrance to the European market, authorities are demanding tests to determine the presence of any anthraquinones in the fruit juice and Phytolab's test procedures have been acknowledged by a number of European food authorities.

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