Methyleugenol is a natural constituent of a large number of essential oils including rose, basil, hyacinth, pimento, citronella, anise (400 ppm), nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon and laurel fruits and leaves. The chemical has also been identified in bananas, and black pepper.
Methyleugenol was given GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status in 1965 and is approved by the FDA for use in food (21CFR 121.1164). It is used as a flavoring agent in jellies (52 ppm), baked goods (13 ppm), nonalcoholic beverages (10 ppm), chewing gum, candy (11 ppm), pudding, relish and ice cream (4.8 ppm) . The council of Europe has listed the acceptable daily intake as 5 mg/kg/day. It is also used as a fragrance in perfumes 0.3%-0.8%, creams and lotions (0.01%-0.05%), and soaps and detergents (0.02%-0.2%). One of the major uses for methyleugenol is as an insect attractant. It was used in California in 1982, in combination with malathion, to control an outbreak of oriental fruit flies.
Toxicity and carcinogenicity studies were conducted in rats and mice by administering the chemical by gavage once daily, five days per week for up to 2 years. Additionally a stop exposure study was conducted in rats to determine whether the rodents can recover from the effects of the chemical. Toxicokinetic and metabolism studies in rats and mice as well as in vitro DNA adduct formation studies using rat and human liver slices were also conducted.
Serum from volunteers consuming ginger snaps will be analyzed to determine the bioavailability of this agent in people who consume foods containing methyleugenol. The information obtained from this study will be used for evaluating the health risk to humans from normal exposure to this chemical based on comparisons with blood levels in rodents from the NTP toxicology studies.
The NTP assembles a Pathology Working Group (PWG) to review every study and to resolve any differences between the study laboratory and quality assessment pathology evaluations. It should be noted that in determining final conclusions, the NTP assesses a broad array of information that takes into account all data obtained from the NTP evaluation of each agent and that of the historical controls plus relevant published literature. In addition, all study data are subject to an NTP retrospective audit and the interpretation may be modified based on these findings.
However, in its mandate to keep the public informed in a timely
manner of current National Toxicology Program (NTP) study results,
summary pathology tables are made available for distribution by
mail and are also posted on this NTP website
as the PWG reviews are completed. All of the study data for methyleugenol
are currently under evaluation and a technical report is being
prepared for presentation to the NTP Board of Scientific Counselors'
Peer Review Subcommittee on October 30, 1998.