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Survey on Ergot Alkaloids in Cereals Intended for Human Consumption and Animal Feeding


The project was designed to obtain representative data on the occurrence of the six most prominent ergot alkaloids (ergometrine, ergotamine, ergosine, ergocristine, ergokryptine and ergocornine) in rye, wheat and triticale food and feed samples in Europe, using a validated multi-toxin analytical method.
A total of 803 samples of cereals and cereal products intended for human consumption and
animal feeding were analysed for the presence of ergot alkaloids. <P>
Samples were collected between August 2010 and May 2011 in 13 European countries
including Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland,
Switzerland, Estonia, France, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom. The samples comprised
148 rye feed, 182 rye food, 137 wheat feed, 127 wheat food, 27 triticale feed samples
collected in mills (mainly harvest 2010 and to a lesser extent harvest 2009) as well as
182 food products collected in Belgian shops. The samples from the Belgian shops included
different countries of production and different types of products namely rye bread
(19 samples), rye flour (21), wheat bread (21), wheat flour (22), wheat bran (18), biscuit (30),
crispbread (8), multigrain bread (17), multigrain flour (14) and multigrain flakes (12). All the
samples were analysed using a sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry
(LC-MS/MS) method, validated for the target matrices and that allows the simultaneous
determination of the most prominent ergot alkaloids i.e. ergometrine, ergosine, ergotamine,
ergocornine, ergokryptine, ergocristine as well as their corresponding epimers. <P>
Ergot alkaloids were present in 52 % of rye feed, 95 % of rye food, 34 % of wheat feed, 86 %
of wheat food, 48 % of triticale feed and 76 % food products from the shops at total alkaloid
levels ranging from 1 to 12340 ìg/kg. Though the highest frequencies of contamination were
observed for food samples, the feed samples and in particular the Swiss rye feed accounted
for the highest levels of ergot alkaloids.

More information

View the <a href="; target="_blank">Scientific Report</a> (2.2 MB) submitted to EFSA.

Ghent University
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