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Cinnamon - Production of quills, uses in the food industry


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1       Introduction

The  name  cinnamon  refers  to  the  tropical  evergreen  tree  as  well  as  the  bark  that  is extracted from the plant. Cinnamon is known as cannelle in French; ceylonzeimt/kaneel in  German;  cannella  in  Italian;  canela  in  Spanish,  yook  gway  in  Chinese,  dal-chini  in Hindi and kurunda in Sinhalese. Cinnamon spice is obtained by drying the central part of the  bark  and  is  marketed  as  quills  or  powder.  The  production  of  cinnamon  is  mostly limited to the wettest lowland areas of Southeast Asia. Cinnamon is cultivated up to an altitude  of  500  metres  above  mean  sea  level  where  the  mean  temperature  is  27sC  and annual  rainfall  is  2000–2400  mm.  It  prefers  sandy  soil  enriched  with  organic  matter. Cinnamon  is  classified  in  the  botanical  division  Magnoliophyta,  class  Magnoliopsida, order Magnoliales and family Lauraceae. The tree grows to a height of 7 to 10 m in its wild state and has deeply veined ovate leaves that are dark green on top and lighter green underneath. Both bark and leaves are aromatic. It has small yellowish-white flowers with a disagreeable odour and bears dark purple berries.

The  genus  Cinnamomum  has  250  species  and  many  of  them  are  aromatic  and flavouring.  In  many  instances,  very  little  distinction  is  made  between  the  bark  of Cinnamomum  verum  (syn.  C.  zeylanicum,  true  cinnamon)  and  Cinnamomum  cassia

(Chinese cinnamon).  C. verum provides cinnamon  bark  of the  finest  quality  and oil  of cinnamon whereas C. cassia provides cassia bark and oil of cassia (also known as oil of cinnamon). Cassia was used in China long before the introduction of true cinnamon but is now considered an inferior substitute. There are still other species of Cinnamomum which are often traded as cinnamon or cassia.

Cinnamon as a spice dates back in Chinese writings to 4000 BC. The botanical name Cinnamomum is derived from the Hebraic and Arabic term  amomon, meaning fragrant spice  plant.  Cinnamon  is referred to  in  the  Old  Testament  and  in  Sanskrit  writings. In ancient Egypt, cinnamon was used medicinally, as a flavouring and in embalming. The spice was highly prized by the Greeks and Romans. It was one of the spices which sent Columbus west to discover the eastern Spice Islands. It was the same search for spices that led Vasco da Gama to round the Cape of Good Hope and reach the Malabar Coast of

India  in  1498.  The  Portuguese  invaded  Sri  Lanka  immediately  after  reaching  India  in

1536 mainly for cinnamon. Both  Herodotus  in  the  fifth  century  BC  and  Theophrastus  in  the  fourth  century  BC

believed   that   cinnamon   and   cassia   came   from   the   neighbourhood   of   Arabia. Cinnamomum zeylanicum, is reported to have  originated in Sri Lanka  and the Malabar coast  of  India.1   C.  cassia  is  reported  to  have  originated  in  South-East  China.  Other economic species  of Cinnamon, which are commonly used as substitute for cinnamon/ cassia, are detailed in Table 1.

A lot of confusion exists between cinnamon and cassia. While cinnamon and cassia are not precisely the same, they are closely related and the bark of the two is not all that different. It may be a surprise to many to know that what is sold in American stores as cinnamon is mostly cassia. Cassia is thick, hard and has a flavour that is extremely bitter and burning with somewhat of a bite in the after taste. Cassia has a double curl when it dries, meaning that this is a spiral of dried bark, a small bit of relatively  straight bark, then the other long edge spiral in the opposite direction. Ground cassia has very reddish brown colour. True cinnamon has but a single spiral curl and is almost papery, brittle, easily crushed or powdered. Its flavour is more subdued, less bitter and has a decidedly sweet finish in the after taste. Its smell is sweet and aromatic. The bark of cinnamon is pale yellowish brown.

2       Chemical structure

Cinnamon bark contains:

   moisture 9.9%

   protein 4.65%

   fat (ether extract) 2.2%

   fibre 20.3%

   carbohydrates 59.55%

   total ash 3.55%

   calcium 1.6%

   phosphorus 0.05%

   iron 0.004%

   sodium 0.01%

   potassium 0.4%

   vitamins (mg/100g) B1 0.14; B2 0.21; C 39.8; niacin 1.9; A 175 I.U.

It has a caloric value (food energy) of 355/100 g.2  It also contains up to 4% volatile oil, tannins  constituting  of  polymeric  5,7,3 ,4 -tetrahydroxy  flavan-3,4–diol  units  catechins and pre-anthocyanidins, resins, mucilage, gum, sugars, calcium oxalate, two insecticidal compounds  (cinnezalin  and  cinnzelanol);  coumarins  and  others.3   The  sweet  taste  of cinnamon is due to the presence of cinnamaldehyde. It is reported that, when combined with sweet food, the sweet sensation of the food is enhanced because of the synergetic effect  between the  sweet  taste  of sugar  and  sweet  aroma  of  cinnamon.4  Sweetish  bark with pungent taste and low mucilage (about 3%) is preferred by the food industry. The deodouring/masking property of cinnamon bark is due to the presence of trimethyl amine. The   bark   oil   consists   of   cinnamaldehyde   (80–90%),   eugenol,   eugenol   acetate, cinnamyl  acetate,  cinnamyl  alcohol,  methyl  eugenol,  benzaldehyde,  cinnamaldehyde, benzyl benzoate, linalool, monoterpene, hydrocarbon, caryophyllene, safrole and others

Table 1    Major economic species of Cinnamomum

Botanical name                    Common name                        Origin/centre of           Part used                 Major use


Cinnamomum verum Presl. Syn                                          True cinnamon/Ceylon cinnamon                Sri Lanka, Malabar                               bark, leaves                             Flavouring, perfumery,

C. zeylanicum Blume                                                          Coast, Seychelles                                         medicinal

C. cassia Presl.                    Cassia, Chinese cinnamon      Southeast China           bark, leaves, buds       Flavouring, medicinal, Chewing pan

C. camphora                       Camphor                                 Southern China/           Wood/ leaves                                            Medicinal/perfumery


C. loureirii Nees                  Saigon cinnamon, Vietnam cassia                               Vietnam                   bark, bark oil                                            Flavouring

C. burmanii Blume              Cassia vera, Korinjii cassia     Indonesia                     bark (Massoi bark)  Spice and oleoresin in flavouring

C. tamala                             Indian cassia                           India                            bark, leaves             Medicinal, leaves as bay leaves for flavouring

C. ineris                               Wild cinnamon of Japan         Japan, Southern           bark                         Mosquito repellent


C. sintok                              Java cassia                              Java and Sumatra        bark                         Flavouring

C. obtusifolium                                                                    Northeast India,           bark                         Substitute for true cinnamon


C. culilawan and C. rubrum                                               Moluccas and              bark, bud                 Flavouring, substitute for

Amboyana                                                               clove bud C. olivera               Australian cinnamon    Australia                                            bark                                         Flavouring C. glaucascens                                            Sugandha kokila                      Nepal                           bark/leaves                                            Perfumery

such  as  pinene,  phyllandrene,  cymene  and  cineol.5   Bark  oil  is  a  pale  yellow  to  dark yellow liquid with a strong, warm, sweet, spicy, tenacious odour and a sweet, pungent but not bitter taste.

The root bark oil consists of camphor at 60%. It is colourless to pale yellowish brown, similar  in  odour  to  stem  bark  oil  but  weaker,  lacking  in  fragrance  and  camphoraceous odour. The leaf oil is a yellow to brownish yellow, with a warm, spicy, somewhat harsh odour,  lacking  the  richness  of  bark  oil.  Cinnamon  leaf  oil  has  eugenol  (80–88%), cinnamaldehyde,  cinnamyl  acetate,  pinene,  linalool,  eugenol  acetate  and  some  minor compounds. The iso-eugenol produced from eugenol fractionated from cinnamon leaf oil possesses more desirable aroma and flavour than that derived from clove leaf oil.6

Chip   oil   has   a   very   good   odour   and   flavour   although   contains   20%   less cinnamaldehyde  and  twice  the  amount  of  eugenol.  Seeds  contain  33%  fixed  oil  used for making candles. This oil is also called cinnamon suet. Oleoresin is a deep reddish or greenish brown, rather viscous liquid.

Cassia  bark  yields  from  1–2%  volatile  oil,  resembling  that  of  cinnamon.  Its  value depends on the  percentage of cinnamaldehyde.  The oil  also contains cinnamyl  acetate, cinnamic acid, phenyl propyl acetate, orthocumaric aldehyde, tannic acid and starch.

3       Production

Sri Lanka followed by the Seychelles and Malagasy Republic are the major producers of true cinnamon bark with the best quality, while Indonesia, China and Vietnam contribute the  major  share  of  cassia.  India,  Malaysia,  Indian  Ocean  Islands  and  West  Union territories are occasional exporters but their impact on world trade is not so significant. The major use of cinnamon is in the form of ground cassia and it comes from Indonesia.7

The  low  grade  cinnamon  comprising  feathering  and  chips  is  produced  in  limited quantities  in  Sri  Lanka  but  constitutes  a  much  larger  share  of  total  exports  from Madagascar.  The  major  importer  of  cinnamon  is  Mexico  followed  by  West  Germany, USA  and  Great  Britain.  Other  importers  are  Saudi  Arabia,  Taiwan,  Singapore,  Hong Kong  and  France.8  Spice  is  traded  internationally  in  whole  form  and  grinding is  often carried out in the consuming centres.

Bark  oil  is  produced  from  the  distillation  of  imported  cinnamon/cassia  in  Western Europe  and  North  America.  The  major  cinnamon  bark  oil  supplier  is  Sri  Lanka,  and France is the biggest importer followed by USA.9 Leaf oil is distilled in Sri Lanka and the Seychelles. USA and Western Europe are the largest markets for cinnamon leaf oil. The ready availability of eugenol ex clove leaf oil has led to some loss in market for cinnamon leaf  oil.  The  major  producer  of  cassia  oil  is  China.  USA  and  Japan  are  its  major importers. Small quantities of cassia oil are produced in Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Nepal but these are obtained from species of cinnamon other than C. cassia and are much less widely traded than Chinese oil.

Harvesting  for  bark  is  made  after  the  second  or  third  year  of  planting  and  the subsequent harvest is made between 12 and 18 months after the previous harvest. Quills of 60–125 kg/ha are obtained from the first harvest. Plants with an age of 10–12 years will give about 225–300 kg quills per hectare. Cutting of the tree is normally done in the wet season from central portions of shoots. The finest quality of bark is obtained from shoots  with  uniform  brown  colour,  thin  bark  1.0–1.25 m  length  and  1.25 cm  diameter. The ideal time for cutting the stem is when the red flush of the young leaves turn to green and this is the indication of the free flow of sap between the bark and the wood. Shoots

ready for peeling are removed from the stumps and the terminal ends of shoots are also removed. The harvesting season varies from May to November, although harvesting on a limited scale continues throughout the year.

3.1       Production of quills

There are a number of stages in the production of quills2

   Peeling: the rough outer bark is first scraped off with a special knife. Then the scraped portion  is  polished  with  a  brass  rod  to  facilitate  easy  peeling.  A  longitudinal  slit  is made from one end to other and the bark is peeled off. A shoot cut in the morning is peeled on the same day.

   Rolling: The barks are packed together and placed  one above the  other and pressed well. The bark slips are reduced to 20 cm length and are piled up in small enclosures made by sticks. Then they are covered with dry leaves or mat to preserve the moisture for the next day’s operation and also to enhance slight fermentation. The retention of moisture is important for the next operation: ‘piping’.

   Piping: Rolled slips are taken to the piping yard for piping operations. The outer skin is scraped  off with  a small  curved knife.  The  scraped  slips are  sorted  into  different grades according to thickness. The graded slips are trimmed, ends are cut and pressed over pipes. Slips are rolled into pipes and soon after, they are allowed to dry. During drying,  smaller  quills  are  inserted  into  the  bigger  ones,  forming  smooth  and  pale brown compound quills, which are known as pipes. The quills are arranged in parallel lines in the shade for drying as direct exposure to the sun at this stage would result in warping. The dried quills, thus obtained, consist of a mixture of coarse and fine types and are yellowish brown in colour. The quills are bleached, if necessary, by sulphur treatment for about 8 hours.

The  process  of  producing  quills  has  several  by-products  which  are  used  in  further processing:

   Quillings:  These  are  broken  pieces  of  quills  used  mainly  for  grinding  but  also  for distillation of oil. The pieces vary considerably in size, being about 5 to 15 or 20 cm in length and about 10 to 25 mm in diameter.

   Featherings: These are short shavings and small pieces of left overs in the processing of the  inner bark  into quills. Collectively, featherings present  a shade darker colour than the quills and a shade lighter than the chips.

   Chips:  These  are  small  pieces  of  bark,  greyish  brown  on  the  outside  and  a  lighter brown  on  the  inside.  They  are  deficient  in  both  aroma  and  taste  and  are  not  to  be compared to the quills for flavour.

3.2       Production of ground cinnamon

The heat of grinding is very destructive to the volatile oil content of cinnamon. Cryogenic grinding,  however,  does  retain  more  volatiles  and  it  is  very  good  in  the  case  of cinnamon.10

3.3       Production of oils and oleoresins

Distillation   of   chips   and   variable   amounts   of   featherings   and   quillings   through hydrodistillation  or  steam  distillation  produce  cinnamon  bark  oil.  Bark  to  be  distilled

for oil should not be left in wet bundles or become damp, as this encourages mould or fermentation which directly  affects oil composition. Cinnamon bark produces two oils, viz. a superior type derived from the inner bark, and a lower quality from broken quills, chips and  bark.  The  leaves  left  after  trimming  the  cut  stems  as  well  as those  obtained from  pruning  operations  provide  the  raw  material for production of  cinnamon  leaf  oil. About  one  tonne  of  leaves  are  obtained  from  one  hectare  which  on  steam  distillation yields  2.5–3 kg  leaf  oil  rich  in  eugenol.  Cinnamon  and  cassia  oils  are  both  normally rectified to provide oil with a more uniform composition. Rectification is also required to produce feedstock eugenol for subsequent derivative manufacture.

Cinnamon oleoresin is also produced, to a lesser extent especially in North America, from cheaper Indonesian cassia for flavouring purposes. Oleoresin is prepared by extracting cinnamon bark with organic solvents, the yield using ethanol is 10–12% and using benzene is 2.5–4.3%. Recently 1,1,2-trichloro-1,2,2–trifluroethane has also been used.

3.4       Storage

Cinnamon  should  be  stored  in  a  cool,  dry  place.  Excessive  heat  will  volatilise  and dissipate  its  aromatic  essential  oils,  and  high  humidity  will  tend  to  cake  it.  Date  the containers when they arrive, so that older stock will be used first. Store them off the floor and away from outside walls to minimise the chance of dampness. Make it a hard and fast rule that all spice containers be tightly closed after each use, because prolonged exposure to the air will also cause some loss of flavour and aroma. Under good storage conditions, the  qualities  of  aroma  and  flavour  for  which  cinnamon  is  prized  will  be  retained  long enough to meet any normal requirements of commercial baking. Whole cinnamon does not lose its volatile oil as fast as that of the ground form. When ground cinnamon is stored in bulk in an ambient warehouse, a good rule of thumb is loss of 0.1% volatile oil per month.  Whole  quills  will  keep  their  flavour longer.  Oleoresin flavour  is  stable  at  high temperature.  On  prolonged  storage,  owing  to  oxidation,  it  becomes  contaminated  with resin and cinnamic acid and changes to cherry red.

4       Main uses in the food industry

A  large  proportion  of  the  total  usage  of  cinnamon  is  for  culinary  purposes.  It  can  be bought as whole sticks, used to flavour rice and meat dishes, but recipes can also call for ground cinnamon. Cinnamon being more delicate  is mostly used in dessert dishes. Hot apple  cider  just  does  not  taste  the  same  without  a  cinnamon  stick.  It  is  used  to  spice mulled  wines,  creams  and  syrups  in  Europe.  In  Mexico,  the  largest  importer  of  Sri Lankan cinnamon, it is drunk with coffee and chocolate or brewed as a tea. Although in Western  cuisine,  it  is  mainly  used  in  sweet  dishes,  its  primary  use  is  within  savoury dishes in the East. In Indian cuisine, it is used in curries and pilaus and is an important ingredient in garam masala. Cinnamon sticks are used in beverages, boiled beef, pickles, chutneys  and  ketchup. It  is  common  in  many  Middle  Eastern,  North African  dishes in flavouring lamp tagines or stuffed aubergines. Cinnamon does more than add flavour to cakes, cookies, ice creams and other high fat desserts.

In  India,  Southeast  Asia,  USA  and  in  European  countries,  cinnamon  is  used  for flavouring foods. It is commonly used for de-odouring/masking in the food industry in the USA. Bark oil is employed mainly in the flavouring industry where it is used in meat and  fast  food  seasonings,  sauces  and  pickles,  baked  goods,  confectionery,  cola-type

drinks, tobacco flavours and in dental and pharmaceutical  preparations. The bark oil is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, slowing meat spoilage, so its use as a spice for meat dishes in  warmer  climates  is  sensible.  Cinnamon  oleoresin  is  used  in  flavouring,  cake  and similar mixes, pickles, prepared meats, convenience foods and related products. Leaf oil is used as a flavouring agent for seasonings and savoury snacks to a small extent. The iso- eugenol,  derived  from  ex-eugenol  cinnamon  leaf  oil,  is  another  flavouring  agent  in confectionery and liqueurs.

The stronger flavour of cassia is preferred in chocolate manufacture by Germans and Italians and is used less frequently in the kitchen. Cassia oil is used mainly for flavouring cola-type  drinks,  with  smaller  amounts  used  in  bakery  products,  sauces,  confectionery and liqueurs. Dried unripe fruit, or Chinese cassia buds, have the odour and taste of the bark, and are rather like small cloves in appearance. They are employed in confectionery and in making pot-pourri. Cinnamon buds are as good for flavouring and spicing as the bark itself.11

Cinnamon   is  used  widely  in  baking  both  for  colouring  and  flavouring.  When purchasing cinnamon, however, the commercial baker must consider his specific needs. For  certain  purposes,  it  may  be  desirable  to  give  a  baked  product  high  cinnamon colouring and yet only relatively mild cinnamon flavouring. In this case, the buyer would look  for  a  red-coloured  cinnamon  (cassia)  with  a  moderate  oil  content,  or  perhaps  a cinnamon blend (in which two or more grades are mixed to give a desired performance). The blending of different cinnamon varieties or grades to create tailor-made cinnamon for various  types  of  baked  goods  has  become  a  standard  practice.  It  is  something  which commercial bakers have requested and provided the blends are formulated properly, they have many advantages.

5       Functional properties and toxicity

This herb has been used medicinally for thousands of years to fight toothache, clear up urinary tract infections and soothe stomach irritation. It has a broad range of historical uses  in  different  cultures  including  the  treatment  of  diarrhoea,  arthritis  and  various menstrual disorders. The large number of medicinal applications for cinnamon indicates the widespread appreciation of folk herbalists for its healing properties.

In  the  Indian  System  of  Ayurvedic  medicine,  it  is  used  against  a  wide  spectrum  of diseases   like   bronchitis,   colds,   congestion,   diarrhoea,   dysentry,   oedema,   flu,   gas, metabolic  and  heart  strengthening,  hiccups,  indigestion,  liver  problems,  menorrhagia, melancholy, muscle tension, nausea and vomiting. It assists uterine contractions during labour and menstrual pain from low metabolic function. For external applications, it is used against headaches and pain.12

In  Unani  medicine,  it  is  used  as  a  cephalic  tonic  and  cardiac  stimulant  and  for  the treatment  of  coughs.  Flowers  are  used  in  the  European  tradition  as  a  blood  purifier. Cinnamon  may  find  its  way  to  a  diabetic’s  daily  diet.  It  contains  a  chemical  called methoxy   hydroxy   chalcone   polymer,   which   can   reduce   the   blood   glucose   level. Cinnamon  is  used  for  religious  purposes  also.  Its  believed,  by  some,  that  burning cinnamon incense will promote high spirituality and aid in healing. Some people believe that it can stimulate the passions of the male.13

It is now becoming more widely used as a herbal remedy in Europe and the United States. The generally recommended medicinal dosage for cinnamon powder is 0.5–1 g as tea, 0.5–1 ml as fluid extract in 1:1 in 70% alcohol and 0.05–0.2 ml bark oil.14

Cinnamon is a good detoxifying herb and acts as a pain reliever. Various terpenoides found in essential oil are believed to account for cinnamon’s medicinal effects. Important among these compounds are eugenol and cinnamaldehyde. The essential oil also shows antimicrobial  activity  against  Pseudomonas,  Aspergillus  parasiticus,  Staphylococcus aureus,   Candida   and   Saccharomyces   cerivisiae,   Serratia   and   gram   positive

(Bronchothrix,  Carnobacterium  and  Lactobacillus).  The  bark  oil  is  anti-fungal  and anti-bacterial.

Cinnamon oil has strong lipolytic properties in dissolving fat and thus aids digestion.15

Once  consumed,  cinnamon  helps  break  down  fats  in  the  digestive  system, possibly  by boosting  the  activity  of  digestive  enzymes.  Cinnamon  also  has  a  potential  role  in  the treatment of diabetes. Cinnamon contains a chemical called methoxy hydroxy chalcone polymer which can reduce the blood glucose level.

Culinary cinnamon is on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of herbs generally regarded as safe. The amounts of cinnamon normally used in food are non-toxic, although some  people  develop  allergic  reactions  after  eating  this  spice.  Chronic  use  may  cause inflammation in the mouth. Ingestion of cinnamon oil may cause nausea, vomiting and possible kidney damage. The oil may cause redness and burning of the skin. Do not use in case of fever and pregnancy. Cinnamon handlers have a high incidence of asthma, skin irritation,  and  hair  loss.  Toothpastes  and  ointments  containing  cinnamon  may  cause stomatitis and dermatitis in some cases.

Only small amounts should be used initially in persons who have not previously had contact   with   cinnamon,   and   anyone   with   a   known   allergy   should   avoid   it.   The concentrated oil is more likely to cause problems. It has been reported from Sri Lanka that  workers  undertaking  grading  of  cinnamon  have  suffered  a  number  of  ailments, mainly in the form of cough and asthma, smarting of the eye and irritation to the skin due to exposure to cinnamon dust.

6       Quality issues

The  quality  of  bark  is  greatly  influenced  by  the  soil  and  ecological  factors.  The  bark obtained from the central branches is superior to that from the outer shoots and that from either the base or the top.16  The bark of thick branches is coarse and that of young shoots is thin and straw coloured with very little flavour.17  Plants grown under shade produce inferior quality quills.

The quality of cinnamon is assessed primarily on the basis of its appearance and on the content  and  aroma/flavour  characteristics  of  the  volatile  oil.  Good  quality  cinnamon should not be thicker than a thick paper. It should be light brown with wavy lines and produce a sound of fracture when broken. When chewed it should become soft, melt in the  mouth  and  sweeten  the  breath.  Freshly  ground  cinnamon  bark  of  good  quality contains 0.9 to 2.3% essential oil depending on the variety.

6.1       Grading of quills

This is essentially done on the basis of physical appearance and there is no close relation with the volatile oil content. Compound quills measuring 42 inches long (just over 1 m) are  sorted  into  grades  according  to  the  thickness  of  the  bark.  Three  main  qualities are exported18  namely:

   Fine/continental  grades:  Quills  are  fine  and  are  designated  by  a  series  of  zeroes  C-

00000  being  the  thinnest  and  best,  while  C-0  is  the  thickest  (range  from  10 mm  in diameter or less in C-00000 and 19 mm in C-0 grade)

   Hamburg grades: H1 to H3 wherein H-1 grade is thicker and darker than C-0 grade. H-

3 is very coarse, ranging from about 23 mm to 32 mm

   Mexican grades: M-00000 and M-0000 are intermediate in quality between fine and Hamburg  grades.  M-00000  is  equivalent  to  C-000  in  thickness  and  M-0000  is equivalent to C-0.

For cassia quills, the grade designations are:

   Quality A: quills 1 m long taken from the main trunk

   Quality B: from side branches

   Quality C: broken pieces

6.2       Quality specifications Whole  and  ground  cinnamon  quality  is  defined  in  ISO 6539-1983  for  its  physical  and chemical properties. According to this standard, Sri Lankan cinnamon should have:

   moisture (max) 12%

   total ash (max) 5%

   acid insoluble ash 1%

   volatile oils: whole 1% and ground 0.7% The American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) has suggested moisture levels to be at

14% for all Cinnamomum species. Most good quality cinnamon should have ash and acid insoluble ash levels less than 5% and 1% respectively. Insect fragment levels mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must be less than 400 per 5 g in the ground spice and the minimum volatile oil content of the fortified ground cinnamon/cassia shall be  2.0 ml  per  100 g.  The  FDA  has  set  defect  action  levels  of  contaminants  for  cassia/ cinnamon as:

   an average of 5% mouldy pieces by weight

   an average of 5% insect infested pieces by weight

   an average of 1 mg of excreta per pound of cinnamon. British Pharmacopoeia, 1973, lays out the following specifications for bark of Ceylon


   acid insoluble ash should not be more than 2.0%

   foreign organic matter, not more than 2.0%

   volatile oil, not less than 1.0% v/w.19

There is no international standard for cinnamon bark oil although batches containing cinnamaldehye at the higher end of the range fetch higher prices. In USA the Essential Oil   Association   standard   specifies   an   aldehyde   content   of   55–78%.   However, International  (ISO)  standards  exist  for  cinnamon  leaf20   and  cassia  oils.21   Sri  Lanka now accounts for almost all of the leaf oils in the international market and specifies 75–

85% eugenol content and the maximum of 5% cinnamaldehyde. In the United States an FMA monograph, which replaces the old EOA standards, specifies the eugenol content of leaf oil in terms of solubility in KOH (80–88%). For cassia oil, cinnamaldehyde is the major constituent and a minimum content of 80% is specified in the ISO standard.

6.3       Adulteration

Cinnamon is frequently adulterated with a rougher, thicker and less aromatic bark from cassia and C. tamala. Bark oil is usually adulterated  with leaf oil. Artificial  cinnamon was  prepared  by  Schmal  in  1940,  mixing  3.4%  of  a  mixture  of  96%  cinnamaldehyde and  4%  eugenol  with  a  carrier  such  as  powdered  hazelnut  or  almond  shells  and colouring  the  mixture  with  yellow  brown  dye.22   Bark  oil  is  often  distilled  from  a mixture of bark and leaves. Bark powder is adulterated with powdered beechnut husks, aromatised  with  cinnamaldehyde.  It  may  often  also  be  adulterated  with  sugar,  ground walnut  shells,  galanga  rhizome,  etc.  The  addition  of  cassia  oil  to  cinnamon  bark  oil represents another form of adulteration. The oil sometimes contains resin, petroleum or oil of cloves.23

True  cinnamon  can  be  detected  by  TLC  by  European/American  distillery  criteria, where  limit  of  bark  oil  eugenol  content  should  not  exceed  14%.  The  cinnamaldehyde should  fall  between  60–75%.  Ceylon  cinnamon,  if  tested  with  one  or  two  drops  of tincture of iodine to a fluid ounce of a decoction of the powder, is but little affected, while with  cassia  a  deep  blue  black  colour  is  produced.  The  cheaper  kinds  of  cassia  can  be distinguished by the greater quantity of mucilage, which can be extracted by cold water.

7       References

1.  RADHAKRISHNAN V V, MADHUSOODNAN K J  and KURUVILLA K M, ‘Cinnamon   The spicy bark’,   Spice India, 1992 5(4) 12–13.

2.  PETER K V and KANDIANNAN K,  ‘Cinnamon’, Tropical Horticulture Vol. 1, Bose T K, Mitra S K, Farooqi A A and Sadhu M K (eds.), Calcutta, Naya Prakash, 1999.

3.  LEUNG  A  Y  and  FOSTER  S,  Encyclopedia  of  Common  Natural  Ingredients  Used  in

Food, Drugs and Cosmetics, New York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1996.

4.  KUMAR  N,  ABDULKADER  J  B  M,  RANGASWAMI  P  and  IRULAPPAN  I,  Introduction  to Spices, Plantation Crops, Medicinal  and Aromatic Plants. New Delhi, Oxford and IBH Publishing, 1997.

5.  HEALTH  H  B,  Flavour  Technology   Profiles,  Products,  Applications,  Connecticut, AVI Publishing Company, Inc., 1978.

6.  COPPEN J J W, Flavours and Fragrances of Plant Origin, Rome, FAO, 1995.

7.  ATAL  C  K  and  KAPUR  B  M  (ed.)  Cultivation  and  Utilisation  of  Aromatic  Plants, Jammu, RRL, 1982.

8.  FARREL  K  T,  Spices,  Condiments  and  Seasonings.  Westport,  The  AVI  Publishing

Company, Inc., 1985.

9.  HONE A  and MILCHARD M, Ground and packaged spices: Options and difficulties in processing at origin, Marketing Series, NRI (Natual resource Institute), 1993 7, 5–7.

10.  TAINTER D R and GRENIS A T, Spices and Seasonings A Food Technology Handbook, VCH Publishers, Inc., 1993.

  PRUTHI J S, Spices and Condiments, India, National Book Trust, 1987.

12.  Herb  Information   Cinnamon   Available  from  https://www.Holistic-on

(Accessed in October 2000)

13.  SARAH PITMAN, Cinnamon: It’s not just for making cinnamon rolls. Ethnobotanical leaflets. College of Science, SIUC http//www. (Accessed on Oct 2000)

14.  BLUMENTHAL  M,  BUSSE  W  R  and  GOLDBERG  A,  (eds.)  The  Complete  Commission  E Monographs:  Therapeutic  Guide  to  Herbal  Medicines.  Boston  MA:  Integrative Medicine Communication, 1998, 110–

15.  HIRASA K and MASA M T,  Spice Science and Technology, Tokyo, Marcel Dekker Inc.,



and SASTRI B N  (eds.) Wealth of India, Vol. II, Delhi, CSIR, 1950.

17.  RIDLEY H N, Spices, Dehradun, International Book Distributors, 1983.

18.  PARRY  J  W,  Spices,  Vol.  II,  Morphology,  Histology  and  Chemistry,  New  York, Chemical Publishing Company, Inc., 1969.

19.  PURSEGLOVE J W, BROWN E G, GREEN C L  and ROBBINS S R J, Spices Vol. 1. London, Longman, 1981.

20.  ISO  1997,  ‘Oil  of  cinnamn  leaf’.  International  Standard,  ISO  3524-1977  (E).  2pp. International Standards Organisation.

21.  ISO   1974,   Oil   of   cassia’.   International   Standard,   ISO   3524-1977   (E).   2pp. International Standards Organisation.

22.  PRUTHI J S, Quality Assurance in Spices and Spices Products Modern Methods of

Analysis, New Delhi, Allied Publishers, 1998.

23.  LEYEL C F  (ed.), A Modern Herbal, Norfolk, Lowe & Brydone Printer Ltd., 1979.

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