In 2020 The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) performs a risk assessment (1) in response to the European Commission’s request concerning the risks for animal and human health related to the presence of glycoalkaloids (GAs) in feed and food. This risk assessment covered edible parts of potato plants and other food plants containing GAs, in particular, tomato and aubergine.
Many plants in the family Solanaceae contain glycoalkaloids, and they are considered to be natural toxins. The plant glycoalkaloids are toxic steroidal glycosides and the commonest types found in food plants are α-solanine α-chaconine. The levels of glycoalkaloids in tomatoes and aubergines are generally quite low, so the glycoalkaloids of most relevance to food safety are those occurring in the potato.
Glycoalkaloids lead to intestinal discomfort, vomiting, fever, diarrhoea and neurological problems and can lead to human or animal deaths in cases of acute toxicity. Transportation, handling, poor storage and exposure to sunlight during marketing of potatoes exposes consumers to potential risk of glycoalkaloids due to injury and greening which lead to increased levels of glycoalkaloids.
Glycoalkaloids are quite stable and therefore, freeze-drying, boiling, dehydration or microwaving have got limited effect and thus persist through the processing conditions into the final products with the levels being proportional to the concentrations in the raw materials used. (2)
The EU Commission has recommended the monitoring of glycoalkaloids in potato and potato products and the identification of the factors resulting in their high levels, and to gather more information on the effects of processing on the level of glycoalkaloids.
- Member States with the active involvement of food business operators should monitor glycoalkaloids α-solanine and α-chaconine in potatoes and potato products. If possible, the degradation products β- and γ- solanine and chaconine and the aglycon solanidine should also be analysed, in particular in processed potato products
- To prevent enzymatic degradation of α-chaconine in particular when analysing raw potatoes (unpeeled/peeled), a solution of 1 % formic acid in methanol should be added to the potatoes in a ratio of 1:2 (volume:weight) when they are blended and homogenised before extraction and clean-up. The recommended methods of analysis are liquid chromatography with ultraviolet photodiode-array detection (LC-UV-DAD) or liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Other methods of analysis can be applied provided that evidence is available showing that they generate reliable results for individual glycoalkaloids. The limit of quantification (LOQ) for the determination of each glycoalkaloid should preferably be around 1 mg/kg and not be higher than 5 mg/kg
Contact us to know more about our services and how we can help ensure the safety and the quality of your products. The Institut Kirchhoff Berlin can quantify α-solanine and α-chaconine in potatoes and potato products.