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DateLine Sunday, 4 May 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Ceylon cinnamon a money spinner

The medicinal value of Sri Lanka’s cinnamon has widened the market opportunities in the international market, said senior research officer ITI K. R. Dayananda.

True cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnmaomum Zeylinicum) produced only in Sri Lanka has a greater opportunity in this emerging market. However, there are two challenges which have to be addressed immediately.

Firstly, the traditional fumigation method used in the industry has to change immediately to meet international standards.

The sulphur residual level of our cinnamon is higher than the European standards and today the market enjoys a temporary respite.

Secondly, true cinnamon has to be separated from cassia or Chinese cinnamon because both are traded commonly as cinnamon. This is a disadvantage for Ceylon cinnamon because cassia has a high percentage of coumarin, a toxic substance, Dayananda said.

ITI conducted research on the coumarin content of Ceylon cinnamon and the results were impressive, Dayananda said. This is the first comprehensive analysis on Ceylon cinnamon for its coumarin content.

According to the general standard for food addictives issued by the FAO and WHO Codex committee, the presence of substances of toxicological concern including coumarin in natural flavours, spices and condiments should not exceed the threshold limit. Moreover, coumarin in foods that are ready for consumption should not exceed 2 ppm.

The ITI research, revealed that the coumarin content in commercial cinnamon bark and bark oil was determined by gas chromatography.

They tested the samples submitted by leading exporters for certification. According to 38 cinnamon bark oil samples tested the maximum coumarin content detected was 100ppm and coumarin was not detected in 39 per cent of oil samples tested.

Based on these results, the maximum coumarin content is within the range of 1 ppm in the cinnamon bark (Oil content of bark is 17 per cent.) The analysis of cinnamon bark samples gave the same results.

The maximum coumarin content in the cinnamon bark samples distilled and tested was 30ppm. This is higher than the 2 ppm recommended. However, since the daily intake of cinnamon is very small this is not harmful. The coumarin content in cassia is more than 800ppm.

Dayananda said that the results of this study confirmed that Ceylon cinnamon contains the least amount of coumarin compared to cassia and it is within safe limits recommended by FAO/WHO guidelines.

Recent research has proved the medicinal and neutriceutical value of cinnamon. Scientists have isolated and characterised several poly-phenolic polymer compounds from cinnamon bark that could one day become natural ingredients in products aimed at lowering blood sugar levels.

During a decade of efforts to find natural compounds that could help maintain normal blood sugar levels, scientists tested several components of cinnamon.

The newly characterised chemical structures are closely related to a previously reported chemical derivative of cinnamon, Methyl Hydroxy Chalcone Polymer (MHCP). Among many plant extracts only cinnamon showed the highest insulin enhancing activity.

The poly-phenolic polymers in cinnamon bark have antioxidant effects, which may provide synergistic benefits to people with various forms of diabetes.

Today Ceylon cinnamon dominates the world market in terms of value and it fetches a very high price compared to cassia. According to 2006 trade statistics, Sri Lanka has exported 10,685 tonnes of cinnamon and earned $ 5,509 per tonne, a very high price compared to $925 per tonne received for cassia.

However, a large quantity of cassia is coming to the market and it is a close substitute. We can promote this advantage of low coumarin content, to compete with cassia, Dayananda said.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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