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Analysis of levels of the pyrrolizidine alkaloid Lycopsamine in borage and control honeys.
Project Code: T01050
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are natural toxicants produced by some plants including borage (Borago officinalis). They are potent liver toxins in both animals and humans and there is a potential for these toxins to be transferred to honey by pollinating bees, but few data are available.
An analytical standard for lycopsamine, one of the two possible PAs this unidentified compound could be, recently became available. The methodology from the previous project was used to quantify levels of lycopsamine in borage honeys from the previous project and a small sample of commercially available borage honeys
The use of lycopsamine standards has allowed a quantitative method to be developed. Lycopsamine was detected in 10 of the 12 samples of borage honey tested; with levels ranging between 3 and 25 µg/kg. This new information will enable the Food Standards Agency to refine the assessment of the potential risks associated with exposure to lycopsamine from pyrrolizidine alkaloid contaminated honeys.
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