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Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2015;32(12):2058-67. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2015.1087651. Epub 2015 Oct 15.

Pyrrolizidine and tropane alkaloids in teas and the herbal teas peppermint, rooibos and chamomile in the Israeli market.

Author information

1
a Kimron Veterinary Institute , Department of Toxicology , Bet Dagan , Israel.
2
b Quality Services International , Bremen , Germany.
3
c RIKILT-Wageningen UR , Wageningen , The Netherlands.

Abstract

Dehydro pyrrolizidine alkaloids (dehydro PAs) are carcinogenic phytotoxins prevalent in the Boraginaceae, Asteraceae and Fabaceae families. Dehydro PAs enter the food and feed chain by co-harvesting of crops intended for human and animal consumption as well as by carry-over into animal-based products such as milk, eggs and honey. Recently the occurrence of dehydro PAs in teas and herbal teas has gained increasing attention from the EU, due to the high levels of dehydro PAs found in commercially available teas and herbal teas in Germany and Switzerland. Furthermore, several tropane alkaloids (TAs, e.g. scopolamine and hyoscyamine) intoxications due to the consumption of contaminated herbal teas were reported in the literature. The aim of the present study was to determine the dehydro PAs and TAs levels in 70 pre-packed teabags of herbal and non-herbal tea types sold in supermarkets in Israel. Chamomile, peppermint and rooibos teas contained high dehydro PAs levels in almost all samples analysed. Lower amounts were detected in black and green teas, while no dehydro PAs were found in fennel and melissa herbal teas. Total dehydro PAs concentrations in chamomile, peppermint and rooibos teas ranged from 20 to 1729 μg/kg. Except for black tea containing only mono-ester retrorsine-type dehydro PAs, all other teas and herbal teas showed mixed patterns of dehydro PA ester types, indicating a contamination by various weed species during harvesting and/or production. The TA levels per teabag were below the recommended acute reference dose; however, the positive findings of TAs in all peppermint tea samples warrant a more extensive survey. The partially high levels of dehydro PAs found in teas and herbal teas present an urgent warning letter to the regulatory authorities to perform routine quality control analysis and implement maximum residual levels for dehydro PAs.

KEYWORDS:

LC-MS/MS; herbal tea; pyrrolizidine alkaloids; tea; tropane alkaloids

PMID:
26365752
DOI:
10.1080/19440049.2015.1087651
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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