Risk assessment of buckwheat flour contaminated by thorn-apple (Datura stramonium L.) alkaloids: a case study from Slovenia
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A description of the experience
Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2013;30(2):321-30. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2012.743189. Epub 2012 Dec 17.
Risk assessment of buckwheat flour contaminated by thorn-apple (Datura stramonium L.) alkaloids: a case study from Slovenia.
Perharič L1, Koželj G, Družina B, Stanovnik L.
- 1National Institute of Public Health, Centre for Infectious Diseases and Environmental Health, Ljubljana, Slovenia. firstname.lastname@example.org
In Slovenia, a mass poisoning incident involving 73 consumers with symptoms such as dry mouth, hot red skin, blurred vision, tachycardia, urinary retention, ataxia, speech disturbance, disorientation and visual hallucinations occurred in 2003.
In all cases, consumers had eaten buckwheat flour food products within the last few hours.
Investigations by responsible authorities identified the contamination of a range of buckwheat food products with thorn-apple (Datura stramonium L.) seeds containing toxic alkaloids, atropine and scopolamine.
To ensure the safe consumption of buckwheat food products, we carried out risk characterisation and proposed provisional maximum residue levels (MRLs) of atropine and scopolamine mixture in buckwheat flour. In the absence of critical "no observed adverse effect levels" for atropine and scopolamine, we based our estimation of the acute reference doses on the lowest recommended therapeutic doses. Taking into account the additive effect of the two alkaloids, we calculated acute reference doses of the mixture, that is 0.05 µg/kg of body mass for atropine and 0.03 µg/kg of body mass for scopolamine. MRLs for atropine and scopolamine mixture in buckwheat flour were estimated in a worst-case scenario, that is consumption of 100 g of flour by a child weighing 10 kg and taking into account a range of atropine/scopolamine ratio in implicated food products, that is 0.85-3.3. We proposed the national MRLs for atropine/scopolamine mixture in buckwheat food products: 4.0 µg/kg (atropine) and 2.0 µg/kg(scopolamine). However, in view of the large variability in the alkaloid content, depending on the origin of the Datura, we propose that risk assessment should be carried out on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the ratio between atropine and scopolamine content in a particular sample.