Glycyrrhizinic acid in licorice products on the Danish market

Nicolai Z. Ballin*, Dorte Møller Larsen, Sofie Tjagvad Jensen, Laila Brock Andersen, Pelle Thonning Olesen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Glycyrrhizinic acid (GA) is a natural compound found in licorice root and its extract, and is used in a large number of food products. It has been documented that excess consumption of licorice can cause adverse health effects, due to their content of GA. Mandatory labelling rules are therefore in place in the EU to inform consumers of the possible adverse health effects. In this study, 219 samples of confectionery, ice cream, and tea with licorice were sampled in Denmark and analyzed for their GA content. The content of GA was measured with a UPLC-UV method. The results showed that 10% of the samples were inadequately labelled. The samples in each category reaching the highest GA content were confectionery made of pure licorice extract at 23,154 mg/kg, brewed tea at 1203 mg/L, and ice cream at 1690 mg/kg. An intake of 4.3 g of confectionery, 59 g of ice cream, or 83 ml of tea, would surpass the provisionary limit of 100 mg GA/day for regular ingestion. In addition to this health risk scenario from high content products, a larger consumption of licorice products with a lower GA content could also pose a health risk. We suggest campaigns to increase public awareness of the potential adverse health effects of excessive licorice consumption. In addition, it was investigated if 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GE) was liberated during the processing steps of licorice production. GE is the pharmacologically active aglucone of GA. 18β-Glycyrrhetinic acid was not identified in any product.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109322
JournalFood Control
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Food
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra
  • Glycyrrhizinic acid
  • Licorice
  • Tea


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