More than half of apple juice samples above legal patulin limit, says study

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Patulin (PAT) is a mycotoxin naturally found in fruits, including apples
Patulin (PAT) is a mycotoxin naturally found in fruits, including apples
More than 50% of apple juices samples analysed exceeded the maximum legal levels of patulin, according to researchers.

Patulin (PAT) is a mycotoxin naturally found in fruits, including apples and its occurrence as a natural contaminant of fruit juices is indicative of fruit quality in production.

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) used their own method of 'microextraction and capillary electrophoresis' to analyse concentrations of a kind of mycotoxins, patulin, in 19 batches of eight brands of commercial apple juice.

They differentiated between conventional juice, organic juice and juice designed specifically for children.

EU level

The European Union has set the maximum content of patulin in 50μg kg for fruit juices and 10μg kg for infant fruit juices.

However, some samples of conventional apple juices had 114.4μg/kg, and one batch labelled as baby food had 162.2μg/kg, which is more than 15 times the legal limit.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the mycotoxin as being in group three, which means it is “not classifiable as carcinogenic, although it has not been proven that it is not”​.

Dispersive liquid–liquid microextraction (DLLME) was proposed for the extraction and preconcentration of PAT in apple juice, which was followed by micellar electrokinetic chromatography (MEKC) with diode-array detection

DLLME–MEKC methodology was successfully applied to the analysis of 19 apple juice samples from local supermarkets.

In the study of apple juices, researchers found the organic products had fewer mycotoxins than the conventional ones.

Toxins studied in beer

Meanwhile, a team from Valencia University (UV) used a new technique – called HLPC-LTQ-Orbitrap – to detect the presence of fumonisins and ochratoxins in samples of beer in Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Poland and Spain.

Other toxins from fungi, such as fumonisins and ochratoxins, are included in group two of the IARC standards (probably or possibly carcinogenic) and are found in maize, other cereals and even beer.

"They are minute quantities, although we cannot determine whether they are important because beer is one of the drinks which is not directly included in European law on mycotoxins​," said Josep Rubert, UV researcher and co-author of the study.

The same team has analysed 1250 samples of cereal-based products from Spain, France and Germany to see whether there are differences between organic and conventional foodstuffs in the case of fumosins.

One of the most striking findings is that samples of gofio flour, commonly used in the Canaries, had concentrations of this mycotoxin in quantities greater than 1000 μg/kg, the limit established by European law.

The results of the study of cereal-based foodstuffs show that almost 11% of the organic products examined contain fumosins, but in conventional products this percentage is reduced to around 3.5%.

Source: Food Control, volume 31, issue 2, June 2013 pages 353-358

Online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.11.003

Evaluation of dispersive liquid–liquid microextraction for the determination of patulin in apple juices using micellar electrokinetic capillary chromatography”

Authors: María Dolores Víctor-Ortega, Francisco J. Lara, Ana M. García-Campaña, Monsalud del Olmo-Iruela

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Juice Drinks

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