USP Proposes Identity Standard for Pomegranate Juice

The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has proposed a number of updates to the Food Chemical Codex (FCC), including the first example of a new type of resource, the FCC Identity Standard, designed to help food scientists verify the identity of complex food ingredients. The updates are posted in the latest FCC Forum and open for public comment until September 30.

The newly introduced identity standards will provide tests to confirm that a product is what it purports to be, as well as tests for substances that should not be found in an authentic product, according to the USP. The first proposed FCC Identity Standard is for pomegranate juice.

“Unfortunately, there have been numerous cases in the past where a purple-colored liquid labeled as pomegranate juice was found to be pomegranate juice adulterated with various other fruit juices and, in extreme cases, manufactured from only sugars, colorants and other ingredients without containing any fruit juice at all,” says Markus Lipp, PhD, senior director of food standards for USP.

The FCC contains approximately 1,100 monographs providing standards criteria for the purity and identity of food ingredients that are single chemical components, such as glucose. Dr. Lipp notes, however, that some food ingredients are more complex chemically and exhibit natural variations in composition.

“Pomegranate juice is one of those complex food ingredients that may vary significantly in its composition depending on climatic and geographic factors under which the pomegranate fruit are grown,” he says. “For those ingredients, USP developed FCC Identity Standards, which contain a multitude of tests and criteria that users can employ to verify the authenticity of such food ingredients.”

Tests included in the identity standards will verify the absence of markers for adulteration, such as sorbitol or tartaric acid in pomegranate juice. The USP will continue to develop monographs for food ingredients, but when necessary because of the complexity and variability of an ingredient, identity standards will be developed instead, Dr. Lipp says.

This issue of the FCC Forum coincides with the 50th anniversary of the FCC, which was acquired by USP in 2006. The free online resource has been updated with improved search options and other functions to provide greater ease of use.

“USP’s commitment to making the FCC a better, more complete tool with each new edition, and making it a more interactive compendium, adds value to its successful five decades of being the go-to publication for food ingredients standards,” Dr. Lipp says.

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