Magdalena Julita Gajewska, Anna Maria Szosland-Fałtyn
Analysis of cadmium and lead content in organically and conventionally produced herbs and spices available on the Polish market
Background. From decades, spices and medicinal plants gained an important role in pharmacy as a raw material for the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical preparations. They are a component of supplements and medicaments due to the presence of biologically active compounds in their composition. However, in view of the progressive pollution of the environment, various toxic substances enter to this raw material, including heavy metals.
Aim of the study. Comparative study on the levels of cadmium and lead in organically and conventionally produced herbs and spices marketed in Poland.
Material and methods. One hundred and one of samples, belonging to 14 kinds of organic and conventional herbs and spices were evaluated for cadmium and lead content using the flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) technique according to PN-EN 14082: 2004.
Results. Analysed samples of dried herbs and spices contained a low contamination of cadmium and lead and did not pose a risk to public health. The highest cadmium and lead contaminations were found in spices in the form of leaves. Products purchased in hypermarkets were characterized by a significantly higher average heavy metal content compared to products from organic stores (p < 0.05), with the exception of nutmeg samples, where the amount of lead was at a similar level. Additionally in turmeric, sweet paprika, hot paprika and nutmeg samples, contamination with cadmium was also at a similar level. Moreover, in dried garlic samples, a significantly higher cadmium content was in the organic product.
Conclusion. Most of the published data show the results of the heavy metals content in herbs and spices collected from retail sale, local stores or directly from farmers. The authors do not provide information about cultivation methods. Our study compared differences between organic and conventional spices and herbs available on European market taking into account the level of cadmium and lead. The presence of heavy metals in dried herbs and spices is an unavoidable problem, due to soil contamination with these elements is a process that is difficult to reverse. Therefore, it is impossible to completely eliminate them from plant materials. Moreover, dried herbs and spices available on the Polish market come from various regions of the world. However tested in our study samples of dried herbs and spices did not pose a risk to public health, further studies covering larger number of samples are needed to estimate the heavy metals contamination risk of conventional and organic herbs and spices.
Keywords: heavy metals, atomic absorption spectrometry, contaminations, dried herbs and spices.
© Farm Pol, 2022, 78(7): 355–360