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The Universal Hotness, Part 2: Piperine

By: Michael Zviely, CIC
Posted: October 21, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of P&F magazine.

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Piperine (FEMA#2909, CAS# 94-62-2) occurs in pepper, has a pungent, aromatic, tasty flavor, and is applied in spicy formulations. It has a value of 200,000 Scoville units (SU) in comparison to capsaicinc (CAS# 404-86-4), which has 30,000,000 SU. It has been established that the isomers of piperine have almost no pungency and that the slow photoisomerization observed in solutions of piperine explain the observed reduction in the pungency of pepper products under certain conditions. It is suggested that old samples of pepper may contain relatively large amounts of the almost non-pungent isomer isochavicine.

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