In December the Directorate General of Competition, Consumption and Fraud Repression (DGCCRF) said only products containing 36mg PAC A (proanthocyanidin A, the main form found in cranberries) as measured by the BL-DMAC can refer to the AFSSA claim. Any operators referring to analyses based on other protocols “will have to be able to justify the pertinence of his choice regarding the nutritional labelling and the proposed claim”.
The communication followed the testing of 39 samples of cranberry products on the French markets against seven different protocols, to determine which was the most suitable. However this survey did not include the EuraCran method of the European Pharmacopoeia, because it said preliminary trials had shown an over-evaluation of PAC content due to lack of specificity to cranberry-based products.
David Tournay of Tournay Biotechnologies, one of the three industrial producers of cranberry extracts in EuraCran (with Burgundy Botanical Extracts and Diana Naturals) told NutraIngredients.com that he is “very surprised” by the move.
Amongst the errors he says are in the evaluation is the observation that the vanillin method is susceptible to react to other types of PAC than that of cranberry – but lack of consideration that the same can happen with other methods too, including BL-DMAC.
He also points out that the DGCCRF says products should contain 36mg of PAC A, whereas the AFSSA claim states 36mg of Cranberry PAC – and cranberries do contain some other forms of PAC alongside A.
“Moreover, the BL-DMAC itself is not as reliable as the DGCCRF says (even though they recognized that there were some inconsistent results with this method),” he said. He pointed to evidence on variability found with BL-DMAC with the same samples analysed by different lab.
Tournay’s colleague on the EuraCran board, Gontran Gaillot from Burgundy, agreed that there are still some points that are unclear in the DGCCRF notification, such as the existence of about a dozen different forms of the DMAC method.
However he was more positive than Tournay about the French authorities’ move, saying: “As a member of the board of the association Euracran with Tournay and Diana, I personally feel pleased to see that the French authorities finally took position and clarify the situation for our customers and the end-users.”
The problem of different methods used to assess PACs has arisen because the 2004 French health claim refers to 36 milligrams of PACs measured using the 4-dimethylaminocinnamaldehyde (DMAC) method, but the French agency AFSSA (now Anses) did not specify which method was valid for the health claim.
Dan Souza of Decas Botanical Synergies said his company considers it a “duty” to assure the cranberry consumer that they are receiving an efficacious dose of cranberry in the spirit of the AFFSA health claim.
Decas has been involved in developing the BL-DMAC methods, and Souza says he is “pleased that BL DMAC is gaining market acceptance”.
He expects products on the market will be reformulated to include cranberry ingredients with PAC levels ascertained using the BL-DMAC method – and that subsequently “the market for cranberry ingredients will grow”.