Safety of Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali) root extract as a novel food pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283

EFSA J. 2021 Dec 22;19(12):e06937. doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2021.6937. eCollection 2021 Dec.

Abstract

Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali) root extract as a novel food (NF) pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283. The NF is standardised water extract prepared from the dried ground root chips of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack) and proposed by the applicant to be used as food supplement in amounts up to 200 mg/day. The target population is the adult population, except pregnant and lactating women. The characteristic components of the NF are glycosaponins (40-65%) and eurycomanone (0.8-1.5%). It can also contain canthin-6-one alkaloids and isoscopoletin (coumarin). The NF has been present in various international markets since 2009. The Panel notes positive results from the submitted in vitro chromosome aberration test, which indicates clastogenic properties of the NF. In the requested follow-up in vivo mammalian alkaline comet assay, the NF induced positive results at the highest dose tested (2,000 mg/kg body weight (bw)) at the tissues of the first site of contact (stomach and duodenum). Histopathological evaluation of the tested tissues indicated that the positive results of the comet assay were rather due to genotoxicity than cytotoxicity. Taken together, the Panel concludes that the NF has the potential to induce DNA damage, which is of concern, particularly locally for tissues that represent first sites of contact. The Panel concludes that the safety of NF has not been established under any condition of use.

Keywords: Eurycoma longifolia; Novel food; food supplement; genotoxicity; water extract.