German food risk agency warns of health risk posed by whole-leaf Aloe preparations

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Anna Ivanova
©iStock/Anna Ivanova

Related tags Aloe vera

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has ruled whole-leaf Aloe preparations containing anthranoids not suitable for use in foods, including food supplements.

The institute, which advises the German Government on questions of food, chemical and product safety, conclude that the outer layers of Aloe arborescens​ leaves have a suspected genotoxic and carcinogenic effect.

However, further evaluation passed preparations made from anthranoid-free gel or inner pulp from the leaves of Aloe species (mostly Aloe barbadensis​ or Aloe vera) as safe. These substances are commonly used in foods and cosmetics in the EU.

“Anthranoids should generally not be present in foods in the view of the BfR​,” the assessment stated.

“When producing foods with leaves of plants of the Aloe genus, the anthranoid-containing outer leaf layers should be carefully removed in order to keep contamination with anthranoids, which are suspected carcinogens, as low as possible.”

Consumer avoidance advised

BfR’s risk profile​ (Opinion No. 032/2017) believes there is a ‘possible’ likelihood that the general population is at risk of a health impairment with regular intake of dietary supplements made from whole-leaf preparations of the plant Aloe arborescens​.

They added that a ‘severe impairment (irreversible)’ to health would be the outcome of regular intake of dietary supplements made from the whole-leaf preparation and advised consumer avoidance.

Perhaps, the best known species of the Aloe genus is Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis​), in which the inner leaf pulp is used in the food and cosmetics sector as Aloe vera gel.

Other Aloe species are used for other purposes. Inter alia, the sap of the pressed, whole, unpeeled leaves of Aloe arborescens​ (krantz aloe, candelabra aloe) is marketed in the form of food supplements.

EFSA botanical shutdown

The ruling takes advice from the guidelines issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in which products containing the unpeeled leaves of Aloe arborescens​, are not classed as botanical food supplements.

The BfR stated that if the opposite were true, based on current knowledge these products would be identified as being of “no safety concern.”

Botanical claims on substances such as aloe vera, echinacea, ginseng and green tea extracts are currently suspended at the request of the Commission.

The delay is the result of clashes between rules for health claims on botanicals used in food and claims for therapeutic uses of traditional herbal medicinal products.

Arguments stem from how botanical ingredients should be dealt with, while ensuring no misleading claims appear on foods.

A report published, produced from a number of public and industry consultations, is expected by the end of 2017.

Related topics Regulation & Policy Botanicals

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1 comment

Any info on sensitivity or allergic reactions developing from use of Aloe vera gels or lotions for skin?

Posted by Mary Krause,

There is an anecdotal report of skin rash after use of Aloe Vera gel & lotion skin products, the Olympic-labeled brand, in an generally non-sensitive, non-allergic lotion consumer. Is there any data on sensitivity or allergic reactions developing after use of about six (6) 12-16 oz bottles of these skin products?

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