Nicotine is the major alkaloid of the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum. It may also be present in low concentrations in other solanaceous plants such as tomatoes and potatoes. Nicotine is an active substance with insecticidal properties, however, it is banned in the EU since the beginning of the 1980s. An application of nicotine in third countries can never be ruled out completely. If nicotine residues are detected, it is not possible to determine whether the residues stem from an application of an insecticide or from a contamination.
Nicotine which has a stimulating property in low concentrations acts as a strong neurotoxin at higher concentrations. In 2009 EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has defined an ADI (acceptable daily intake) and an ARfD (acute reference dose) of only 0.0008 mg/kg body weight.
For substances without maximum residue limits (MRL) defined by regulation (EC) no. 396/2005, a standard limit of 0.01 mg/kg is valid. In 2009 the BfR (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) and EFSA have dealt with the problem of nicotine in mushrooms. The results of these investigations have shown that for wild mushrooms, especially porcini, residues above 0.01 mg/kg have to be expected.
In 2010 a specific MRL of 0.04 mg/kg for wild mushrooms was defined (chanterelle, truffle, morel, porcini). For cultivated mushrooms no MRL was defined and therefore the standard MRL of 0.01 mg/kg is valid. For dried porcini the MRL is 2.3 mg/kg and for all other dried wild mushrooms 1.2 mg/kg.
Analysis Sensitive to Blanks
We analyse residues of nicotine using sensitive LC-MS-MS. Our nicotine laboratory ensures the necessary environment without blank values reaching sensitivities of below 1 µg/kg. Apart from analysis of foods like eggs and dried porcini, the determination of nicotine in textiles is also feasible.
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