Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA)
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are secondary metabolites produced by a large number of plant species all over the world as protection against herbivores. The PA content in plants varies widely, depending on the plant species and the part of the plant, and is also influenced by other factors (e.g. climate, soil properties).
PA can lead to acute liver damage when consumed in high doses and in animal studies, some PA have proven to be genotoxic carcinogens. Therefore, PA are undesirable in food and feed due to their potentially harmful effects. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is currently conducting a research project on the "Determination of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Food and Feed".