Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins, produced by certain moulds. They are found in several foodstuffs, such as cereals, dried fruit and coffee beans. Adverse health effects of mycotoxins range from acute poisoning to long term effects, including immune deficiencies and cancer. Among the most dangerous mycotoxins, aflatoxin, produced by Aspergillus species, is hepatotoxic and genotoxic, while ochratoxin A, produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium species, causes kidney toxicity.
A new research paper, from the LNS Health Protection and Forensic Medicine departments, published in “Mycotoxin Research” investigated the presence of these dangerous mycotoxins in 142 illegal cannabis samples seized by Luxembourgish police, using HPLC-FLD technology, with a limit of detection of 0.04mg/kg for aflatoxin, and 0.33mg/kg for ochratoxin A. The results did not show presence of aflatoxin. However, about one third of the samples were contaminated with ochratoxin A, at concentrations as high as 16mg/kg. Of note, the maximum levels, set by the European Commission for concentration in spices are 15-20mg/kg.
The joint scientific expertise of the LNS Health Protection and Legal Medicine departments has, not only provided objective evidence on the presence of a dangerous mycotoxin in illegal cannabis samples, but also highlighted the need for larger scale studies, with different storage times, and targeting more mycotoxins.
Link to the publication: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12550-022-00449-z