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Tropane Alkaloids in Food and Feed
24.02.2015 | Tropane alkaloids are phytochemicals occurring in numerous plants, e.g. crucifers and so­lanaceous plants. Plant extracts containing tropane alkaloids have been used for centuries as pharma­ceutical drugs due to their properties. Tropane al­kaloids comprise more than 200 different compounds among them atropine, scopolamine and cocaine. All compounds are chemically related to tropane, a bicyclic octane structure.

EFSA reports that seeds of tropane alkaloid containing plants like thorn apple, henbane and berries of the belladonna are found as contaminants in cereals and seed crops. Contamination may occur in foodstuff like lentils, millet, buckwheat, sunflower seeds and soy. Even small amounts like in the case of contaminated cereals may lead to health-related impairments according to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.

Because of the toxicity of tropane alkaloids, the presence of these compounds in food is undesired. After their risk assessment, EFSA has deduced a group ARfD (sum of (-)-hyoscamine and (-)-scopalamine) of 0.016 µg/kg body weight as a health related indicative value. Higher findings of atropine and scopolamine repeatedly cause notifications in the European Rapid Alert System (RASSF). Safe amounts are exceeded especially in products for babies and children and the products are therefore interpreted as not fit for human consumption respectively hazardous to health by the German food control body CVUA.

The determination of atropine (sum of hyoscamin isomers) and scopolamine is carried out at GALAB using UPLC-MS/MS with a sensitivity of 1 µg/kg. For any questions regarding our analytical services, please contact our sales department.

German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment – Tropane alkaloids in cereals
EFSA – Scientific opinion on tropane alkaloids

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