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.
A recent project funded by the Food Standards Agency, project T01037, indicated that a compound that might be one of the PAs found in borage was detected in some borage honeys. A lack of analytical standards at the time meant that the specific PA could not be identified.
An analytical standard for lycopsamine, one of the two possible PAs this unidentified compound could be, is now available. The methodology from the previous project will be used to quantify levels of lycopsamine in borage honeys from the previous project and a small sample of commercially available borage honeys.
Research Approach: The lycopsamine standard will be used to optimise the analytical method developed in the previous project (T01037) to enable quantification of any lycopsamine present in borage honey samples.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.