Quality and safety assessment of ginseng extracts by determination of the contents of pesticides and metals.

Research paper by J-M JM Durgnat, J J Heuser, D D Andrey, C C Perrin

Indexed on: 17 Dec '05Published on: 17 Dec '05Published in: Food additives and contaminants


Ginseng extracts are available as ingredients for improving energy and vitality and can be used in functional foods and as flavouring ingredients. A survey was been performed to determine the content of pesticides and toxic metals in ginseng extracts. Forty-seven samples from 20 suppliers, including both Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer (Asian ginseng) and P. quinquefolius (American ginseng) species, were analysed for arsenic content and for the following metals: aluminium, molybdenum, chromium, copper, magnesium, zinc, cadmium, mercury and lead, while pesticide residues were analysed in 30 samples from 17 suppliers. The results showed that 24 samples (80%) contained pesticides above the detection limit and 13 samples (43%) did not comply with the maximum residue limits (MRL) for total quintozene, hexachlorobenzene, total hexachlorocyclohexane, lindane, total heptachlor, e-chlorpyrifos and folpet, imposed for botanical extracts. Total quintozene, hexachlorobenzene, total hexachlorocyclohexane and lindane were present in all contaminated samples and exceeded the MRL in eleven samples, with levels up to 55 and 30 times their respective MRL. Cadmium (<0.05-259 microg kg(-1)), mercury (<0.3-72 microg kg(-1)), lead (3-2710 microg kg(-1)) and arsenic (<0.3-918 microg kg(-1)) were present in most samples at concentrations lower than the MRL imposed for flavouring substances. Among the other elements, aluminium (0.3-1068 mg kg(-1)) was the most abundant.