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Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2013;30(9):1598-605. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2013.804955. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

Analysis of the neurotoxin anisatin in star anise by LC-MS/MS.

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a Official Food and Veterinary Control Authority of Geneva , Geneva , Switzerland.


The aim of this work was to develop an analytical method capable of determining the presence of anisatin in star anise. This neurotoxin may induce severe side effects such as epileptic convulsions. It is therefore of prime importance to have rapid and accurate analytical methods able to detect and quantify anisatin in samples that are purportedly edible star anise. The sample preparation combined an automated accelerated solvent extraction with a solid-supported liquid-liquid purification step on EXtrelut®. Samples were analysed on a porous graphitic carbon HPLC column and quantified by tandem mass spectrometry operating in the negative ionisation mode. The quantification range of anisatin was between 0.2 and 8 mg kg⁻¹. The applicability of this validated method was demonstrated by the analysis of several Illicium species and star anise samples purchased on the Swiss market. High levels of anisatin were measured in Illicium lanceolatum, I. majus and I. anisatum, which may cause health concerns if they are misidentified or mixed with edible Illicium verum.

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