Transfer of pyrrolizidine alkaloids from various herbs to eggs and meat in laying hens

Patrick P.J. Mulder*, Susannah L. de Witte, Geert M. Stoopen, Jan van der Meulen, Piet G. van Wikselaar, Erik Gruys, Maria J. Groot, Ron L.A.P. Hoogenboom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the potential transfer of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), laying hens were fed for 14 days with diets containing 0.5% of dried common ragwort, common groundsel, narrow-leaved ragwort or viper’s bugloss, or 0.1% of common heliotrope. This resulted in total PA levels in feed of respectively 5.5, 11.1, 53.1, 5.9 and 21.7 mg kg 1, with varying composition. PAs were transferred to eggs, in particular yolk, with steady-state levels of respectively 12, 21, 216, 2 and 36 µg kg 1. Overall transfer rates for the sum of PAs were estimated between 0.02% and 0.23%, depending on the type of PAs in the feed. In animals slaughtered shortly after the last exposure, levels in meat were slightly lower than those in eggs, levels in livers somewhat higher. When switched to clean feed, levels in eggs gradually decreased, but after 14 days were still above detection limits in the hens exposed to higher PA levels. Similar was the case for meat and especially kidneys and livers. It is concluded that the intake of PA containing herbs by laying hens may result in levels in eggs and meat that could be of concern for consumers, and as such should be avoided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1826-1893
JournalFood Additives & Contaminants. Pt. A, Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure & Risk Assessment
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • eggs
  • laying hens
  • liver
  • meat
  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids
  • transfer


Dive into the research topics of 'Transfer of pyrrolizidine alkaloids from various herbs to eggs and meat in laying hens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this