Frequently asked questions on pyrrolizidine alkaloids in foods

Updated BfR FAQ of 17 June 2020

Some years ago, high levels of 1,2-unsaturated pyrrolizi-dinalkaloids (PA) were found in tea and herbal tea. High concentrations of these compounds can also occur in certain honeys, depending on their origin. Moreover, leafy salads and herbs/spices may be contaminated with parts of plants containing PAs, such as Senecio vulgaris (ragwort, groundsel), which contain significant amounts of 1,2-unsaturated PAs. Food supplements made from or containing plants with a PA content may represent another source.

Due to their harmful potential, 1,2-unsaturated PAs are undesired in food and feed. In the opinion of the BfR, further measures are needed, especially by the food industry, to reduce the contamination of foods with 1,2-unsaturated PAs. The BfR has compiled questions and answers on this subject.

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