Glycoalkaloids in Potatoes

Some Glykoalkaloids are toxic compounds synthesized by plants of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) for protection against pests and herbivorous animals. Some members of the nightshade family, among them potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines are used for human consumption. Glycoalkaloids are heat persistent and are therefore not destroyed by cooking. Because of their toxic effect, they should be avoided in food products.

The term Solanine comprises the most important glycoalkaloids of the potato, α-Solanine and α-Chaconine. Chemically, they are both derived from Solanidine, a steroid structure. The difference of both glycoalkaloids is the carbohydrate component made up of three monosaccharides.

The amount of Solanine present in tomatoes or aubergines is not toxicologically relevant. Potatoes, on the other hand, have a significantly higher content in tubers, skin, shoots or blossoms. There are no legal maximum residue limits in the EU for glycoalkaloids in potatoes. The Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) considers amounts up to 200 mg/kg in potatoes for safe. The joint committee for food additives of FAO and WHO (JECFA) considers amounts of glycoalkaloids between 20-100 mg/kg for safe.

At GALAB, determination of α-Solanine and α-Chaconine in potato products are performed using LC-MS. With this sensitive method we are able to provide a lower limit of quantifi­cation (LOQ) of 10 µg/kg.


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