Ricola’s lozenges, with their secret recipe of Swiss mountain herbs, have been famous for decades. For more than 20 years, Ricola has used a METTLER TOLEDO volumetric Karl Fischer titrator to monitor water content during production. The successful collaboration continues with a new generation of titrators that guarantee the high quality of Ricola’s products.
In the 80 years since the founding of the Swiss company Ricola AG, its famous herbal drops have helped millions of people with sore or dry throats. The traditional family business also offers products ranging from herbal teas to sugar-free herbal pearls in numerous flavors and packages. The entire Ricola assortment is produced in Switzerland, with around 90% of the products exported to more than 50 countries worldwide.
The healing power of the drops is derived from a well-guarded recipe that includes 13 herbs. Each is sourced from the Swiss mountains and grown in controlled natural conditions, without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, or artificial fertilizers. To Ricola, quality is of the essence; a crucial component of the quality management process is tight control of the water content of both raw materials and the drops themselves. Indeed, the production process is seriously affected if the water content rises above a certain level. Similarly, the appearance of each drop is influenced by ambient humidity, such that water content monitoring is not only critical during product development, but is an important control parameter for process and storage stability.
To manage production effectively, the Ricola quality control department must know exactly how much water their products contain. The first challenge is to release the water from the material matrix. For Ricola’s samples the best option is to use a solvent mixture of formamide and methanol, ideally at 50 °C, to enhance and hasten sample dissolution. This task is easily solved with a Karl Fischer volumetric titrator with a thermostatic beaker from METTLER TOLEDO. Using the solvent manager, toxic formamide can be pumped automatically into the titration cell, then into a waste bottle after use, protecting operators from direct contact with dangerous solutions.
20 years of reliability
METTLER TOLEDO’s volumetric Karl Fischer titrator has had a home with Ricola for more than a quarter of its own history. The first instrument was purchased in 1989 and has recently been replaced by two new V30S titrators titrators for the production site and distribution center. Already validated for Ricola’s methods, the instruments are used daily by a team of laboratory technicians, one of whose favorite new features is the convenient and easy-to-use touchscreen. 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 titrators for, hopefully, another 20 years.”