INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME ON CHEMICAL SAFETY
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
SUMMARY OF TOXICOLOGICAL DATA OF CERTAIN FOOD ADDITIVES
WHO FOOD ADDITIVES SERIES NO. 13
The data contained in this document were examined by the
Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives*
Rome, 3-12 April 1978
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
World Health Organization
* Twenty-second Report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food
Additives, Geneva, 1978, WHO Technical Report Series No. 631
These compounds have been evaluated for acceptable daily intake
by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives in 1974.
Since the previous evaluation additional data have become
available and are summarized below.
Curcumin at 0.1% in the diet lowered the serum and liver
cholesterol levels of rats fed cholesterol at 1% in their diet for
seven weeks. Faecal output of bile acids was increased in rats fed
curcumin with or without added cholesterol. Cholesterol excretion was
also enhanced by feeding curcumin (Rao et al., 1970).
No data available.
Two dogs were fed for one year on a diet containing approximately
1% commercial turmeric. No adverse effects were noted compared with
two controls (Truhaut, 1958).
Groups of 20 male and 20 female rats were fed for 420 days on a
diet containing 0.5% of commercial turmeric with a control group of 15
males and 15 females. The average life span of test animals was 16-1/2
months compared with 17 months of the controls. Growth, haematology or
reproductive function were undisturbed as well as survival of the
pups. Passive congestion of the liver was seen equally in test and
control animals. No tumours were found. A follow-up of the first
filial generation for their life span showed no abnormalities except
for one benign tumour in a female rat (Truhaut, 1958).
"In vitro" lipid peroxidation of rat brain preparations showed
95% inhibition in the presence of 5.15 × 10-3 M curcumin (Sharma,
Extracts of curcumin prepared by crushing the rhyzomes of
curcumin, and diluting the extract with water caused abnormalities in
the metaphase stage of division of root tip cells of Alluim cepa.
The predominant type of aberration produced was chromosome breakage.
In addition, other effects observed included C-mitosis, somatic
segregations, binucleate cells and multipolar anophases (Abraham et
"In vitro" cell toxicity
Studies on the effect of alcoholic extracts of turmeric on
mammalian cells "in vitro", using cells of the Chinese hamster
(Cencetulus griseus), cell line Don of the cactus mouse
(Peromyseus eremicus) and of the Indian munja (Muntiacus muntjac),
and short-term human lymphocyte cultures, showed changes in chromosome
morphology (chromatid separation, breakage and disintegration), as
well as mitotic arrest. The incorporation of labelled nuclosides into
Chinese hamster cells was greatly inhibited by concentrations of the
turmeric extract that did not cause detectable changes in chromosome
morphology (Goodpasture and Arrighi, 1976).
Abraham, S., Abraham, S. K. and Radhamany, G. (1976) Mutagenic
potential of the condiments, ginger and turmeric, Cytologia (Tokyo),
Goodpasture, C. E. and Arrighi, F. E. (1976) Effects of food
seasonings on the cell cycle and chromosome morphology of mammalian
cells in vitro with special reference to turmeric, Food Cosmet.
Toxicol., 14, 9-14
Rao, D. S., Sekhara, N. C., Satyanarayana, M. N. and Srinivasan, M.
(1970) Effect of curcumin on serum and liver cholesterol levels in the
rat, J. Nutr., 100, 1307-1315
Sharma, O. P. (1976) Antioxidant activity of curcumin and related
compounds, Biochem. Pharmacol., 25, 1811-1812
Truhaut, R. (1958) Resultats des experiences de toxicité à long terme
effectuées avec les colorants d'origine naturelle, le curcuma et
l'orseille. C.R. on 18ème Congrès de la Federation internationale de
Pharmacologie, 8-15 September, 1978