Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are naturally occurring toxins found in a wide variety of plant species. PAs are secondary metabolic products, produced by plants as a defence mechanism against plant eating animals. An estimated 3 % of all blooming plants may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The content depends on the plant species and plant part, also influenced by factors such as soil conditions and climate. More than 500 different PAs and corresponding N-oxides are known, some of them being extremely toxic. PAs can enter the food chain through different routes, for example if PA containing plants contaminate crops or if the toxins are naturally incurred in the plant material.
Ispaghula husk (psyllium husk) is a plant-derived source of soluble fibre and can be used as a dietary supplement or added to foods to increase fibre content and to thicken foodstuffs such as smoothies and soups, contamination of the crop with PAs is usually by accidental co-harvesting of PA-producing weeds.
Fapas has introduced proficiency tests in the FoodChem Programme for natural plant toxins of concern. Within this proficiency test your ability to test ispaghula husk (psyllium husk) contaminated with pyrrolizidine alkaloids will be evaluated. Two or more analytes from a list of 28 analytes will be present in the test material.
Proficiency tests are useful for maintaining high quality across a range of testing environments. Through the use of real food matrices your proficiency test results are immediately comparable to your routine testing activities, allowing you to highlight areas of improvement across your testing practices quickly and effectively. This ensures your end results are credible, and repeatable across a range of testing environments.