Submitted to: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 8, 2010
Publication Date: March 17, 2010
Citation: Mahoney, N.E., Molyneux, R.J. 2010. Rapid Analytical Method for the Determination of Aflatoxins in Plant-Derived Dietary Supplement and Cosmetic Oils. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry,58:4065-4070. Interpretive Summary: Plant edible oils are generally regarded as healthier alternatives to animal-based fats and oils. There has been an increased interest in the use of specialty plant-derived oils, including those from tree nuts (almonds, pistachios, and walnuts) and botanicals (borage, evening primrose, and perilla) both for human consumption and also for the preparation of cosmetics and soaps. These oilseeds are susceptible to mold damage and are at risk of being contaminated with aflatoxin, a compound produced by the agricultural mold Aspergillus flavus. Aflatoxin is a carcinogen and is highly regulated in food products worldwide. Aflatoxins, in a range of concentrations, were added to a wide variety of edible and cosmetic oils. A simple and inexpensive method was developed to isolate the aflatoxins from the oils. The level of aflatoxins could then be accurately measured with a newly developed protocol using high performance liquid chromatography. The described method can be used to test plant-derived oils for aflatoxin contamination and ensure that they are safe for consumption or for use in cosmetics.
Technical Abstract: Consumption of edible oils derived from conventional crop plants is increasing because they are generally regarded as more healthy alternatives to animal based fats and oils. More recently there has been increased interest in the use of alternative specialty plant-derived oils, including those from tree nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts) and botanicals (borage, evening primrose and perilla) both for direct human consumption (e.g. as salad dressings) but also for preparation of cosmetics, soaps, and fragrance oils. This has raised the issue as to whether or not exposure to aflatoxins can result from such oils. It has generally been assumed that plant oils do not retain aflatoxins, although there is virtually no scientific evidence to support this supposition. A validated analytical method for the analysis of aflatoxins in plant-derived oils is essential in order to establish the safety of dietary supplements for consumption or cosmetic use that contain such oils. The aim of this research was therefore to develop an HPLC method applicable to a wide variety of oils from different plant sources spiked with aflatoxins, thereby providing a basis for a comprehensive project to establish an intra- and inter-laboratory validated analytical method for analysis of aflatoxins in dietary supplements and cosmetics formulated with plant oils.