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Team TFS
Team TFS
analysis of quinine in tonic waterEarlier this month I read that Australia has recalled Indian Tonic Water (link to story) as some of the tonic water bottles were mislabeled as soda water and, hence, the labels did not include information on presence of quinine in the beverages; both Australia and the EU require that the presence of quinine in such beverages be declared. Indeed, the UK'sSCHEDULE 8: MISLEADING DESCRIPTIONS states that "The name “Indian tonic water” or “quinine tonic water” shall not be applied to any drink unless the drink contains not less than 57 mg of quinine (calculated as quinine sulphate B.P.) per litre of the drink.

So you may ask what is quinine and why does it need to be declared on a beverage?

Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid which has antipyretic, antimalarial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. Quinine is naturally found in the bark of a cinchona tree but can also be synthesized in the lab. In the medical world, quinine is approved for treatment of malaria and frequently prescribed in the U.S. as an off-label use treatment for nocturnal leg cramps (link to Wikipedia page). In the Food and Beverage Market, quinine is a flavor component of tonic water (a carbonated soft drink with small amounts of dissolved quinine) and bitter lemon. Many people are allergic to quinine and have a severe allergic reaction to it including impacting multiple organs. For this reason, many countries have laws for the testing and labeling of quinine.

This Poster Note, Automated Application Switching in Food and Beverage Analysis for Increased Use Time of HPLC Instrum..., (downloadable PDF), describes the fast HPLC analysis of quinine in tonic and bitter lemon using one of our dual HPLC systems (Thermo Scientific Dionex UltiMate 3000 x2 Dual-Ternary HPLC system) configured for Automated Application Switching (AAS) using our Chromatography Data System (CDS) software (Thermo Scientific Dionex Chromeleon CDS Software). In this setup, after the operator sets up the methods, the system automatically starts and equilibrates, runs the first method, and then the system automatically switches to the second method without any additional operator intervention. This approach frees operator time, increases system usage time, allows automation, and thus boosts productivity. The analysis of quinine is as per the USP monograph for the determination of quinine (link to method).

Interesting tidbit about quinine and gin & tonic cocktails

Did you know that the bitter taste of anti-malarial quinine tonic led British colonials in India (malaria was a persistent problem) to mix it with water, sugar, lime and gin to make the drink bearable, thus creating the gin and tonic cocktail, which is still popular today in many parts of the world. The gin and tonic of today contains much less quinine, is sweetened and less bitter than the original. By the way, you might be interested in checking out the history and current status of malaria in India.

Additional Resources

Do visit our nutritional and food labeling testing community page for more chromatography applications in this market. You might also be interested in Chromatography Solution Online Center which features many useful and complimentary chromatography tools which can help speed up your analysis. The site is updated on a monthly basis; therefore, do check out the Archives section to see what was previously featured.

Is testing for food labeling of interest to your laboratory? If so I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Deepali Mohindra is a senior market development manager for the Food, Beverage and Nutraceutical markets in the Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry Division at Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. A former analytical chemist with extensive experience in food science laboratories, Deepali has applied her training and education in understanding the needs and challenges of or her current customers. She prides herself in developing marketing strategies that help customers understand food safety/food testing workflows, presents webinars and seminars on industry related topics, and shares new food applications with customers on a regular basis via our digital media channels and the website. She also works closely with regulatory bodies, method validation associations, such as the AOAC and key opinion leaders to address the needs of the Food, Beverage and Nutraceutical communities. Deepali received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from San Jose State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.