Magdalena Gajewska, Anna Maria Szosland-Fałtyn, Beata Bartodziejska
Prevalence of aflatoxins and ochratoxine A in organically and conventionally produced herbs and spices
Background. Healing with herbs and spices has had a long history and from decades is enjoyed increasing interest worldwide. This increase in popularity renders safety issues important. Quality problems of herbs and spices may concern various factors: adulteration, misidentification and chemical and biological contamination. Herbal raw material is vulnerable to contamination by toxigenic fungi resulting in the more frequent occurrence of mycotoxins that cannot be neutralized through high temperature. In the present study, the mycotoxins contamination of organic and conventional herbs and spices marketed in Poland was investigated in order to estimate their human health risk.
Aim of the study. Comparative study on the levels of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A in organically and conventionally produced herbs and spices marketed in Poland.
Material and methods. Ninety-six of samples, belonging to 12 kinds of organic and conventional herbs and spices were evaluated for aflatoxins and ochratoxin A content by high performance liquid chromatography using postcolumn derivatization with electrochemically generated bromine (Kobra-cell®) coupled with fluorescence detection.
Results. Of all analysed samples, 23% were contaminated with aflatoxins and 17% were contaminated with ochratoxin A. Only 3% of analysed samples contained mycotoxins at concentrations exceeding the EU regulatory limits (10 µg/kg for aflatoxins in combination (B1+ B2 + B3 + B4) and 15 µg/kg for ochratoxin A). Significant differences were found in the mycotoxins concentrations in the tested products, depending on production system (organic and conventional) and the herbal spice type (p < 0.05). The highest mean concentrations of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A were detected in conventional black pepper samples.
Conclusion. The majority of the tested herbs and spices contained a low level of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A. However even at low levels this kind of contamination could be a serious threat. Therefore only continuous assessment and control of mycotoxins prevalence in herbs and spices can guarantee the health of consumers. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting mycotoxins levels in organic and conventional herbal spices marketed in Poland.
Keywords: spices, herbs, aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, HPLC.
© Farm Pol, 2022, 78 (2): 66–73