In addition to the recent update to the AHPA guidance on Good agricultural and collection practices and good manufacturing practices for botanical materials (AHPA GACP-GMP) addressing prevention of pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA) contamination, AHPA has developed educational resources that finished product marketers and botanical ingredient companies can provide to their supply chains to help educate farm managers and workers about best practices for avoidance of PA contamination.
The new AHPA resources provide a brief overview of the topic of PA containing weeds that are common in many agricultural areas. The materials explain what PAs are and how to avoid PA containing weeds when cultivating and harvesting target botanicals that are intended for use in supplement and food products. Sources for additional information and more detailed guidance are also summarized. One resource is for tea (Camellia sinensis) and the other is for botanical raw materials in general. Initially available in English, AHPA plans to provide translated versions of the educational resources in Spanish and Mandarin. Translation into additional languages will be done based on need.
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are a group of naturally-occurring compounds that are common in numerous plants. Many of these plants are noxious, invasive weeds that are common in agricultural areas, pastures, and along roadsides, etc. Inadvertent harvesting of these plants along with other botanicals can result in the presence of low levels of these chemicals in some supplements and food products. Some PAs have been shown to be toxic to the liver, may cause genetic damage, and may be able to cause cancer.
In December 2020, the European Commission adopted a regulation containing specific maximum levels for the occurrence of PAs in a variety of botanical foodstuffs, including food supplements and teas. This regulation is intended to address the inadvertent presence of PAs in botanical products through the co-harvesting of PA-containing weeds. Compliance will be based on analysis for 35 PAs specified in the regulation and the sum of detected levels as compared to the maximum level of PA content for the defined food category. The implementation date for this regulation is July 1, 2022.
The educational resources can be downloaded from the AHPA website along with AHPA’s other GACP-GMP tools.