Noni juice as a novel food
Noni (morinda citrifolia L.), also known as Indian mulberry or cheese fruit, is an evergreen bush or tree that is native to the shores and forests of Northern Australia, the West Pacific region and the Indian Ocean. Its roots and bark have been used to recover colorants and dyes. Noni is one of the most important medicinal plants in traditional Polynesian folk medicine, which mainly uses the plant’s leaves, roots, bark and green fruits.
The juice of the ripe fruit, that has a strong, unpleasant smell, is marketed on a global basis for its allegedly health-promoting effects. However, the evaluation and tests conducted by the EU’s scientific food committee found no such health-promoting properties that would go beyond those of other fruit juices. Noni juice was allowed to be sold in the European Union as a novel food in 2003.
Our review of Noni juice ("Tahitian Noni Juice") from July 2005
The Consumer Information Association (Verein für Konsumenteninformation) made the Austrian authorities aware of three cases recently, in which a connection was established between the consumption of Noni juice and acute hepatitis. A case study was published in the scientific journal "European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology". The publication refers to an incident dating back to before 2004.
The product in question is the Noni juice produced by Morinda Inc. ("Tahitian Noni Juice") that was allowed to be sold as a novel food in Decision 2003/426/EC. This juice was tested as part of Regulation (EC) 258/97 and in accordance with the comprehensive safety aspects in line with Recommendation 97/618/EC and described in detail and rated as safe in the "Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on Tahitian Noni Juice" of 4th December, 2002.
We took one sample and several control samples of the "Tahitian Noni Juice" produced by Morinda Inc., as a result of the cases mentioned. The samples were tested for the toxicologically relevant substances anthraquinone rubiadin and lucidin and the mycotoxin patulin, among others. The samples were also examined for pyrrolizidine alkaloids that have an extremely damaging effect on the liver, although these substances do not occur in fruit juices. No evidence of the toxic substances mentioned could be found.
Additional information: this product has been consumed in large quantities worldwide for years (30,000 to 50,000 bottles of "Tahitian Noni Juice" are produced on a daily basis). The anthrquinonens mentioned occur in the plant’s root. However, the product is made from the plant’s fruits.
There is no traceable evidence that the product described above has a toxic effect on the liver given the present findings.
Additionally, the EFSA – the European Food Safety Authority – has researched this topic on a scientific basis and arrived at the same conclusion on 6th September, 2006.
A liver-toxic effect by the above-described product is not comprehensible based on the currently available evidence.
More information about noni juice
EFSA Journal 2006 on the Safety of Noni juice
EU-Commission 2002 - Scientific Committee on Food on Tahitian Noni® juice
Noni-Juice: 2 Case studies (Report US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health)
Noni-Saft: Case of hepatitis (Report US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health)
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Last updated: 03.01.2023