Prune Juice Concentrate
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Prune Juice Concentrate

Prune Juice Concentrate

Prunes are ripe plums that are dried. Concentrated prune juice is extracted from softened prunes. As a fruit extract, prune juice concentrate is very rich in sugars and is therefore naturally sweet.

General uses

Prune juice concentrate has many uses in the food industry, e.g. as a sweetener, colour and flavour enhancer, a binding agent in cereal bars, and also as a ‘humectant’ to help keep cakes and cookies moist.

Reported tobacco industry uses

Prune juice concentrate (along with other extracts from either the plum or prune) is reportedly used by tobacco manufacturers to add flavour to the tobacco at different stages of manufacturing. Prune juice concentrate can make up to about 0.5% of the total weight of the tobacco used in one cigarette.

Harmful health effects

Prune juice concentrate, a fruit extract is safe for use in food products. However, this does not suggest it is safe when inhaled from smoking cigarettes. Studies have yet to identify the compounds produced from burning prune juice concentrate. However, the high sugar content of the concentrate suggests it is likely to behave in a similar way to sugar additives. This could lead to the formation of chemicals that are well known to cause cancer in humans such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and those thought to possibly cause cancer such as acetaldehyde. These compounds have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a leading expert cancer organisation). Other toxic compounds that irritate the airways are also formed (e.g. acrolein or 2-furfural).

The sugars also produce acidic compounds, which make it harder for the nicotine in the cigarette smoke to reach the brain. This forces smokers to inhale deeper and to also consume more cigarettes to get their nicotine fix. Furthermore, the use of prune juice concentrate may be indirectly harmful due to the formation of compounds called aldehydes (e.g.  acetaldehyde), which can make cigarettes more addictive by enhancing the addictive potential of nicotine. Aldehydes are very reactive and produce compounds such as the substance harman, which can also enhance addictiveness due to its mood-enhancing effect on the brain.

Prune juice concentrate is used to smoothen and mildly sweeten the smoke. It imparts a sweet taste making the smoke more palatable. The high sugar content of the concentrate provides caramel flavours when burnt that enhance the flavour and attractiveness of smoking. By adding prune juice concentrate to improve the taste of the tobacco, the bitter taste of the smoke is sufficiently masked. Also, the sweet caramel flavours appeals to young people, which can make it easier for them to start smoking.

Prune juice concentrate may also be indirectly harmful by making smoking more pleasurable. This encourages the smoking habit, which could ultimately cause smokers to be exposed to higher levels of the toxic substances in cigarette smoke.

Overall, by adding more desirable flavours such as prune juice concentrate to cigarettes, tobacco manufacturers make it easier for smokers to become addicted.

This text of the factsheet on the tobacco additive prune juice concentrate was written by the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ). ou can find the original in English on the RIVM website  

This initiative has received funding from the European Union in the framework of the Health Programme.