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Recent advances in the quality control of kava, the traditional beverage of the Pacific Islands

Lebot V.. 2018. In : Drew R. (ed.). Proceedings of the International Symposia on Tropical and Temperate Horticulture, Volume 2, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, November 20-25, 2016. Louvain : ISHS, p. 483-492. (Acta Horticulturae : ISHS, 1205). International Symposia on Tropical and Temperate Horticulture, 2016-11-20/2016-11-25, Cairns (Australie).

DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1205.59

Kava, the traditional beverage of the South Pacific Islands is prepared by cold water extraction of the fresh or dried roots and stumps of Piper methysticum Forst. (Piperaceae). Nutraceutical and pharmaceutical kava-based products manufactured in Europe from extracts obtained by solvents (acetone or ethanol) have been implicated in hepatotoxicity cases. Kava has been banned in Germany and, although the German Health Authorities have lost their case in the administrative court, the ban has produced a worldwide negative impact on kava's reputation as a safe product. Quality standards and control are now needed to enable the registration under the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius. The present paper reviews the most recent advances in analytical techniques (HPLC, NIRS, DNA analysis using SSRs and DArTs and HP-TLC) to detect unsuitable cultivars and raw material. These techniques are accurate and reliable but they are comparatively expensive and cumbersome for local traders and exporters in the South Pacific. A simple colorimetric test has been developed and represents a fairly convenient and cost efficient way of assessing the quality of traded kava. Possible strategies for improving the industry are discussed.

Mots-clés : piper methysticum; plante médicinale; phytotoxicité; composition chimique; technique analytique; variété; pacifique sud; océanie; hawaï; samoa

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