Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Honey and Bee Pollen

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess, 2011 Mar;28(3):348-58

A total of 3917 honey samples and 119 'bee pollen' samples (pollen collected by honeybees) were analysed for pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs).

Some 0.05 M sulphuric acid was used for extraction followed by a clean-up step by means of solid-phase extraction. Separation and detection was achieved by target analysis using an LC-MS/MS system.

PAs were found in 66% of the raw honeys (bulk honey not yet packaged in containers for sale in retail outlets) and in 94% of honeys available in supermarkets (retail honey). A total of 60% of the bee pollen samples were PA positive.

The PA pattern was used to identify the potential origin of the PAs in honey, which was verified for the genus Echium by relative pollen analysis.

The results give an estimate of the impact of PA-containing plants belonging to the genera Echium, Senecio and, to a certain extent, Eupatorium on PA levels in honey and can serve as a decision basis for beekeepers in order to find the most suitable location for the production of honey and bee pollen low in PAs.

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