Italian scientists, together with colleagues from the University of Bologna, have expressed concern about the contamination of spinach and foods containing spinach with tropane alkaloids.


Tropane alkaloids are toxic plant substances that can cause various symptoms such as cardiovascular problems, dizziness and loss of consciousness after consumption.


The researchers emphasised the urgency of regulatory measures and increased monitoring efforts, as European legislation does not yet set maximum levels for tropane alkaloids in leafy vegetables.


The chemical analysis of Italian spinach and foods containing spinach revealed high concentrations of the tropane alkaloids atropine and scopolamine. The contamination is probably due to cross-contamination with poisonous plants of the genus Datura. Similar incidents have also been reported in other countries. The results of the investigation are alarming.  The quantities found exceeded the acute reference dose of 0.016 μg/kg body weight for infants by a factor of 2-1200.


Due to the risk of confusion, it is likely that the leaves of the genus Datura were unintentionally introduced into the spinach harvest.


Overall, the cases of tropane alkaloid contamination in Italy highlight the need for increased monitoring and regulatory measures to ensure the safety of leafy vegetables and protect consumers from potential health risks.


YOUR PLUS: The AGROLAB laboratories analyse food for contamination with tropane alkaloids. If EU limit values are already available, the analysis results are evaluated with regard to marketability in accordance with the applicable regulation.



Author: Dr Frank Mörsberger