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Pattern and distribution of ergot alkaloids in cereals and cereal products from European countries

  • Malysheva, Svetlana
  • Larionova, Daria
  • Diana Di Mavungu, José
  • De Saeger, Sarah
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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This paper reports on the occurrence of ergot alkaloids in cereals and cereal products in Europe. It includes occurrence data our group previously submitted to the European Food Safety Authority and new data we gathered afterwards. A total of 1,065 samples of cereals and cereal products intended for human consumption and animal feeding were analysed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry for the presence of ergot alkaloids. The sample set included rye-, wheat- and multigrain-based food as well as rye-, wheat- and triticale-based feed. The study revealed that 59% of the analysed food and feed samples were contaminated with ergot alkaloids to some extent. In 55% of the samples, the levels of the -ine isomers were above the limit of quantification (LOQ), while contamination with the -inine isomers was found in 51% of the samples. The median values for the main ergot alkaloids (-ine forms) and the epimers (-inine forms) were 1 and 2 mu g/kg, respectively. Ergot alkaloids were present in 84% of rye food, 67% of wheat food, 48% of multigrain food, 52% of rye feed, 27% of wheat feed, and 44% of triticale feed at total alkaloid levels ranging from (LOQ) to 12,340 mu g/kg. Though the highest frequencies of contamination were observed for food samples, the feed samples, in particular Swiss rye feed, accounted for the highest levels of ergot alkaloids. The frequencies and levels of contamination were significantly lower in organic samples compared to conventional samples. Maximum levels of individual ergot alkaloids up to 3,270 mu g/kg (for ergotamine) were observed. Overall, ergosine, ergokryptine and ergocristine were the frequently occurring ergot alkaloids. The co-occurrence of all six ergot alkaloids was noted in 35% of the positive samples. Occurrence of a single ergot alkaloid was mainly observed for ergometrine.

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