A recent quality analysis of 10 commercially available cranberry products showed that distinguishing and quantifying cranberry PACs within complex mixtures, using chromatographic techniques, is very challenging. The resulting review, published in the journal Food Control, highlighted the limitations of high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) and other standard analytic methods.
Three leading industry experts recently discussed the implications of this French review: American Botanical Council (ABC) Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, Ph.D., Complete Phytochemical Solutions CEO Christian Krueger and RSSI CEO Stephen Lukawski, who also serves as lead sales consultant and partner for Fruit d’Or Nutraceuticals.
“This study is a step in the right direction,” noted Lukawski. “Studies that investigate the quality of cranberry products are good for the cranberry market, particularly for those who sell high-quality products.” Although Fruit d’Or was not a study sponsor, Fruit d’Or Cranberry Juice was used as a reference material because its constituents – including PACs – due to its standardized quality.
Multiple analyses were performed
The investigator-initiated study evaluated the quality of 10 commercially available cranberry products, sold in sticks, caplets, tablets and syrups, purchased in French pharmacy stores. Half of the products were labeled to contain single-ingredient cranberry; the other five contained ingredient combinations including blueberry, grape seed, bell heather and hibiscus. Researchers had no information about the products’ ingredients except what was on the labels.
In addition to HPTLC, the products were evaluated using ultra high-performance liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS). The total PAC content was determined by UV/Vis spectrophotometry after reacting the products with 4-(dimethylamino) cinnamaldehyde (DMAC).
The results were highly variable and difficult to interpret
Upon reviewing the results, Gafner commented, “The researchers found it difficult to compare cranberry PACs in products that also have other ingredients containing molecules from this class of compounds. My concern is you that using HPTLC, or other liquid chromatography-based approaches to determine the authenticity of cranberry supplements becomes very challenging if these supplements also contain PACs from other sources such as heather or hibiscus.