Perilla aldehyde — a common citrus food flavoring that occurs naturally in citrus peels and is used in a range of foods, including baked goods, meat products, and beverages — is capable of damaging the liver, according to research from the European Food Safety Authority.
The flavoring has been confirmed to be genotoxic, which means that it is harmful to genetic material molecules in such a way that it can cause tumors, mutations, or cancer. In a study conducted by the EFSA, using data from live rats, researchers measured the effects of the aldehyde on the stomach, intestines, and liver.
When they gave live rats the maximum allotted dose of perilla aldehyde, researchers found a statistically significant increase in DNA strand breaks of the liver, at 700 milligrams per kilogram of weight per day.
“Overall, the Panel concluded that p-mentha-1,8-dien-7-al [FL-no: 05.117] is genotoxic in vivo and that, accordingly, there is a safety concern for the use of p-mentha-1,8-dien-7-al [FL-no: 05.117] as a flavoring substance,” scientists concluded.
The research has put a number of related substances used to flavor foods under scrutiny, given their chemical similarities to perilla aldehyde .