Tropane alkaloids in food: poisoning incidents

P. Adamse, H.P. van Egmond, M.Y. Noordam, P.P.J. Mulder, W.C.M. de Nijs

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    50 Citations (Scopus)


    A large number of wild and cultured plants produce secondary metabolites that can be toxic to humans and animals. The present study aims to provide insight into the routes of (un)intentional poisonings of humans by tropane alkaloids. Poisonings of humans by tropane alkaloids occur as unintended ingestions (contamination, mislabelling: thirteen reports; mistaken identity: eleven reports) or intended ingestions (overdoses: nine reports). Contamination of food occurs when toxic plant (parts) are accidentally mixed with edible plants during harvest or processing. Concentrations are usually highest in roots and seeds. Intended ingestions can be the result of consumption for recreational purposes (hallucinogenic effects) or for medical properties (e.g. treatment of arthritis, use as anaesthetic), or homicides and suicides. Carry-over of plant toxins in feed into food products of animal origin does not appear to be a relevant source of exposure. There are several analytical methods available for monitoring tropane alkaloids in food and feed but no regulatory limits have been set. The toxic doses are often not clear due to the lack of analytical data in the cases reported. Human foods that potentially contain tropane alkaloids are herbal teas, herbal preparations, blue-or black berries and edible flowers. Contamination has also been found in beans, buckwheat, soybean and linseed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-24
    JournalQuality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • datura-stramonium seeds
    • capillary-electrophoresis
    • analytical toxicology
    • mass-spectrometry
    • atropine
    • ingestion
    • leaves
    • enantioseparation
    • identification
    • chromatography


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