Introduction: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are probably the most widespread toxins of natural origin. More than 6,000 plant species produce these toxic compounds. Bees can forage on flowers of plants producing PAs, which leads to contamination of honey with the toxic compounds. To determine the contamination of honey with PAs, a sensitive method based on liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry has been developed.
Material and Methods: PAs were extracted with 0.05 M sulphuric acid and purified with MCX cartridges. A solvent mixture consisting of ethyl acetate, methanol, acetonitrile, ammonia, and triethylamine (8:1:1:0.1:0.1, v/v) was used to wash alkaloids from the cartridges. After evaporation the residues were reconstituted in water and methanol mixture and subjected to LC–MS analysis.
Results: The developed method was validated according to SANTE/11945/2015 requirements. The recovery was from 80.6% to 114.5%. The repeatability ranged from 2.3% to 14.6%, and the reproducibility was from 4.9% to 17.7%.
Conclusions: A new method for the determination of PAs in honey has been developed and validated. All evaluated parameters were in accordance with the SANTE/11945/2015 guidance document. Out of 50 analysed honey samples, 16 (32%) were positive for the content of at least one PA.