Traditional materials from new sources – conflicts in analytical methods for calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate (E170) is a common food and pharmaceutical additive/ingredient. In addition to a source of calcium, the carbonate has uses including as a colour, acidity regulator and bulking agent. Globally, a range of regulatory agencies and pharmacopoeia control the analyses and specification of additives in food, supplements, pharmaceutical substances and excipients. Accordingly, a range of specifications and analyses exist for calcium carbonate depending on the application and market of the product. In this contribution, we analyse calcium carbonates from geological, synthetic and biogenic sources, focussing on acid insoluble impurities, a test required by current monographs. Analysis of calcium carbonate from different origins may require modification of existing tests to comply with regulatory bodies, due to the variation of impurities specific to the source of the material. We suggest an analytical approach involving centrifugation that improves analytical efficiency (up to 85% time reduction), especially for calcium carbonate of biological origin.