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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009 Jan;6(1):349-60. doi: 10.3390/ijerph6010349. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Ethyl carbamate in alcoholic beverages from Mexico (tequila, mezcal, bacanora, sotol) and Guatemala (cuxa): market survey and risk assessment.

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Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany.


Ethyl carbamate (EC) is a recognized genotoxic carcinogen, with widespread occurrence in fermented foods and beverages. No data on its occurrence in alcoholic beverages from Mexico or Central America is available. Samples of agave spirits including tequila, mezcal, bacanora and sotol (n=110), and of the sugarcane spirit cuxa (n=16) were purchased in Mexico and Guatemala, respectively, and analyzed for EC. The incidence of EC contamination was higher in Mexico than in Guatemala, however, concentrations were below international guideline levels (<0.15 mg/L). Risk assessment found the Margin of Exposure (MOE) in line with that of European spirits. It is therefore unlikely that EC plays a role in high rates of liver cirrhosis reported in Mexico.


Ethyl carbamate; Guatemala; Mexico; agave; alcoholic beverages; carcinogens; cuxa; food analysis; food contamination; gas chromatography; mass spectrometry; mezcal; risk assessment; sugarcane; tequila; unrecorded alcohol; urethane

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