Secret Recipes behind Ricola’s Herbal Drops
Article by Marie-Louise Hupert
The water content of the famous Ricola herbal drops made from Swiss mountain herbs needs to be carefully controlled during the entire production chain. For more than 20 years, Ricola has monitored this parameter with a volumetric Karl Fischer titrator from METTLER TOLEDO to ensure high quality of herbal products.
A traditional Swiss brandSince Ricola AG was founded 80 years ago in Switzerland, the famous herbal drops have helped a great many people with sore or dry throats. Additionally, the traditional family business offers a wide range of products from herbal teas to sugar-free herbal pearls in numerous flavors and packages. The entire Ricola herbal assortment is produced in Switzerland with around 90 % of the products being exported to over 50 countries worldwide.
The healing power of the prominent drops underlies a well guarded recipe of thirteen herbs. The herbs in Ricola drops and lozenges are grown in the Swiss mountain area, in controlled, natural conditions, without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers. Therefore, it is one of Ricola’s key focuses to keep up high quality standards. An important parameter of the quality management is the water content of the raw materials and the drops themselves. Production processes experience serious problems if the water content rises above a certain level. Similarly, the appearance of each drop is influenced by surrounding humidity. Therefore, water content monitoring is not only crucial during product development, but also as a control parameter for process and storage stability.
Challenging samplesDue to such specific criteria, the Ricola quality control department needs to know exactly how much water their products contain. The first challenge in water determination is to release the water from the material matrix. For Ricola’s samples, the best option is to use a solvent mixture of formamid and methanol, ideally at 50 °C, to enhance and speed up sample dissolution.
This task is easily solved with a Karl Fischer volumetric titrator with a thermostatic beaker from METTLER TOLEDO. By using the solvent manager, toxic formamid can be pumped automatically into the titration cell and into a waste bottle after use, avoiding direct contact with dangerous solutions.
20 years of reliabilityMETTLER TOLEDO’s volumeter has had a home with Ricola for more than a quarter of its own history. The first Karl-Fischer instrument was purchased 1989 and just recently replaced by two new V30s for the production site and distribution center. Already validated, the instruments are used daily by a team of laboratory technicians. One of the favorite new features is the touchscreen which is regarded as very convenient and easy-to-use. Daniel Spaar, manager of quality control, commented that, “The METTLER TOLEDO volumeter has proven to be highly reliable with a long life over the past two decades. Furthermore, we really appreciate the prompt service if needed. These were our main reasons for deciding on two V30s for, hopefully, another 20 years.”
About the Author
METTLER TOLEDO specializes in the area of precision instruments for professional use. METTLER TOLEDO laboratory instruments are used in research, scientific, drug discovery, and quality control labs, amongst many others in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetics industries. METTLER TOLEDO comprehensive industrial solutions cover the various steps in a host of manufacturing processes at many of the same customers that laboratory serves. Solutions range from receiving raw materials through various manufacturing processes, in-line process control and end-of-line packaging control, to logistics and shipping. Increasingly, these solutions are fully integrated into the customer’s IT environment, helping automate their workflows. In food retail, our offering for fresh food management ranges from receiving and pre-packaging, to in-store solutions for self-service departments, deli counters, and checkout terminals.