Cent and mint which is better

Plant toxins detected in herbal teas

Status: 10.01.2016 10:00 a.m. | archive

Herbal teas from well-known manufacturers are partially contaminated with plant toxins to such an extent that their intake is classified as hazardous to health. In a laboratory analysis commissioned by Markt, so-called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) were discovered in a random sample in four out of six peppermint and herbal teas. These can lead to liver damage and liver cancer.

Three mint teas and three herbal mixtures were examined:

  • "Yes! Peppermint" from Rewe for 49 cents
  • "Mint" from Teekanne for 1.99 euros
  • "Westminster Peppermint" from Aldi for 49 cents
  • "Monastery herb mixture" from Edeka for 99 cents
  • "Pure herbs and spicy fresh" from Messmer for 1.99 euros
  • "Lord Nelson 6 Herbs" from Lidl for 89 cents

Toxicologist: Even small amounts can cause cancer

"There is a possibility that the smallest amounts are sufficient to cause cancer," says the toxicologist Prof. Edmund Maser from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. He demands that all foods - including teas - should be free from PA. The poisons are contained in weeds that grow between the tea herbs.

Plant toxins in peppermint tea from Rewe

There is no legally prescribed limit value. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has calculated a maximum intake level for PA. This is 0.42 micrograms per day for an adult. The laboratory determined a PA amount of 0.67 micrograms per cup for a peppermint tea from Rewe's own brand. Upon request, the company informed the NDR that it was already carrying out extensive measures to minimize the levels.

Edeka herbal tea just below the maximum intake

An herbal tea from the Edeka private label contained 0.36 micrograms per cup. According to toxicologist Prof. Edmund Maser, this amount is suitable for quickly reaching the maximum intake recommended by the BfR. Edeka points out that there is no statutory limit. Nevertheless, the company wants to implement a minimization concept with its supplier.

Small amounts of plant toxins in teas from Aldi and Messmer

The laboratory also struck gold in the peppermint tea from Aldi and the herbal tea from Messmer - albeit to a lesser extent. Aldi tea contained 0.02 micrograms PA per cup, Messmer's product 0.005 micrograms. Both companies said they had taken steps to reduce PA levels. Only in the peppermint tea from Teekanne and in the herbal tea Lord Nelson from Lidl was no plant poison detectable.

This is how the plant toxins get into the tea

Some plants such as ragwort produce pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) to protect themselves from predators and pests. When the tea herbs are harvested by machine, the poisonous plants that grow between the tea plants get into the harvested material. PA are water-soluble and temperature-resistant. Even the smallest amounts are enough to permanently damage the liver and cause cancer.

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids - dangerous plant substances

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, PA for short, are substances that some plants produce to ward off predators. In total there are more than 500 different PAs that occur in 6,000 different plants. In our latitudes, for example, the ragwort, the ragwort or the adder's head contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. In larger quantities, the toxic substance can damage the liver and lungs. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, PAs have been found in herbal teas, cereals, salads, leafy vegetables and honeys, for example. Studies have shown low PA values ​​in German honey. However, according to the BfR, an acute health risk is unlikely. Deaths from contaminated grain are known from Afghanistan. There are currently no legal limit values ​​for PA in food or feed.

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Market | 01/11/2016 | 8:15 pm