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SPICES

FSSAI issues guidance note on cinnamon, cassia to prevent adulteration
Friday, 07 April, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
In a bid to avoid misrepresentation of cinnamon and cassia, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a guidance note on the distinguishing features of both the spices. The note was released with reference to several representations received by the apex regulator for cassia, a cheap substitute being sold as cinnamon.

Production
The document stated, “True cinnamon, which is known as Cinnamomum verum syn Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, is native to Sri Lanka and South India. Sri Lanka is the major cinnamon-producing country in the world. It accounts for about 60 per cent of the world trade. Meanwhile, India also produces cinnamon in a small quantity.”

Adulteration

The document mentioned the differences between the two varieties, which are usually mistaken for each other due to their resemblance.

It added, “Cinnamon and cassia are closely related spices. However, cassia is being imported in the form of different spices, such as China Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia syn C. aromatic), which is grown in China and Vietnam, and Indonesian cassia (known as C Burmannii), which is grown in the Sumatra and Java regions.”

Differentiation between cinnamon and cassia

Parameter

Cinnamon

Cassia

Taste

Cinnamon is sweet and delicate.

Cassia is strong and peppery.

Color

Cinnamon is light brown or tan in colour.

Cassia is reddish-brown to dark brown in colour.

Look

Cinnamon sticks curl from one side only, and roll up like a newspaper. Real Cinnamon from Sri Lanka (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum) is filled like a cigar.

Cassia bark is thicker, because its outer layer is stripped off. For that reason, cassia sticks curl inward from both sides towards the centre as they dry. Cassia has a hollow tube.

Feel

Cinnamon bark is smooth.

The surface of cassia is rough and uneven.

Grown in

India and Sri Lanka

China, Vietnam and Indonesia

Coumarin content

Low

High



Citing further differences between the two spices, FSSAI issued and operationalised an amendment to the standard of cinnamon (whole and powdered) on November 24, 2016 with respect to the inclusion of the maximum permissible limit of coumarin content to be not more than 0.3 per cent by weight, as cinnamon varieties have a coumarin content of around 0.2 per cent. The inclusion of this new standard helped in distinguishing between cinnamon and cassia, as the latter contains coumarin in the range of 0.8 to 10.63 per cent.

The document pointed out, “Cassia and cinnamon vary in chemical composition. The former contains a higher level of coumarin as compared to cinnamon. Review of scientific evidence indicates that cassia is used/consumed in minor quantities, as one of the ingredients in curry powder or used to make curry masala at home. In normal circumstances, the coumarin intake never reaches levels that can be toxic to human health. Thus, the consumption of cassia is safe.”

However, contradictory to the FSSAI guidelines, Aman Chawla, proprietor, Deepak Trading Co, Mumbai, said, “Cinnamon and cassia are one and the same. The Indian spice is known as cinnamon, while its imported variant is cassia. Cinnamon is of a better quality than cassia. The former is used as an ingredient in food preparations, while the latter is used in the form of  extracts.”
 
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