Multimycotoxins occurrence in spices and herbs commercialized in Lebanon


Aflatoxins and ochratoxin A are regulated in Europe for some spices (Capsicum spp., Piper spp., Myristica fragrans, Zingiber officinale, Curcuma longa) and mixtures of spices containing one or more of these spices. No mycotoxin limits are in force for herbs. A total of 132 samples of spices (94) and herbs (38) purchased from Beirut in Lebanon were analysed for 12 mycotoxins (AFB1, AFB2, AFG1, AFG2, OTA, FB1, FB2, HT-2, T-2, ZEA, DON, NIV) by using a UPLC-MS/MS method based on ‘dilute and shoot’ approach. The limits of detection (LOD) ranged from 0.1 μg/kg (ZEA) to 20.5 μg/kg (DON) and limits of quantification (LOQ) ranged from 0.3 μg/kg (ZEA) to 68.2 μg/kg (DON). 80% of analysed samples were contaminated by 1 to 11 mycotoxins. Total aflatoxins and ochratoxin A were detected in 19 and 30% of spices, 8 and 11% of herbs, respectively. Mean levels of total aflatoxins and ochratoxin A were 168.1 and 7.1 μg/kg in positive spices, 36.1 and 7.0 μg/kg in positive herbs, respectively. 78 and 10% of positive spice samples contained aflatoxin and ochratoxin A at levels higher than the limits, respectively. Total aflatoxin levels higher than the European limits were also measured in some non-regulated spices (allspice, cloves, coriander, fenugreek) and some herbs (rosemary, sage and oregano). Within the non-regulated mycotoxins FB1 was the most occurring (60% in spices, 55% in herbs) followed by FB2 (35% in spices, 18% in herbs), ZEA (30% in spices, 3% in herbs), DON (12% in spices, 3% in herbs), T-2 and HT-2 toxins (3-5%), whereas NIV and AFG2 were never detected. Mean levels of FB1, FB2, ZEA and DON in positive samples of spices were 6432.3, 203.2, 30.6, 1751.4 μg/kg, respectively; in positive samples of herbs they were 2826.3, 214.9, 2.8, 589.7 μg/kg, respectively. The whole results demonstrate the higher susceptibility of spices to mycotoxin contamination with respect to herbs. Comparison of results obtained for samples produced with (81) and without (51) HACCP and GMP showed that the implementation of HACCP and GMP practices seems to be effective in reducing the occurrence of regulated mycotoxins but was ineffective for the non-regulated ones. The samples analysed in this study originated from at least 15 Countries and the results obtained gives indications about the occurrence of mycotoxins in relation to the Country of origin of the samples. The high percentages of positive samples and the high levels of some mycotoxins observed in this study highlight the problem of mycotoxin contamination in spices and herbs consumed in Lebanon. The occurrence of high levels of aflatoxins and OTA in some non-regulated spices and herbs suggests the addition of these matrices in the list of regulated ones. The high number of positive samples and the high levels of fumonisins observed in this study suggest the inclusions of these mycotoxins in the list of regulated mycotoxins for these matrices.


nada Darra


Nada EL DARRA, Lucia Gambacorta, Lucia Gambacorta

Journal/Conference Information

Food Control,DOI:, ISSN: ISSN: 0956-7135, Volume: 24, Issue: 2018, Pages Range: 1-20