Investigation on the presence of mycotoxins in seed hemp varieties

In recent years, the cultivation of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in Europe has aroused interest among farmers for the potential market opportunities of its products; its cultivation has increased from 20,450 ha in 2015 to 33,020 ha in 2022. Thanks to the great versatility of this crop, there are opportunities in the food and nutraceutical fields (gluten free), cosmetics, energy and industrial sectors. As for several crops, hemp seeds may also be contaminated by fungal pathogens compromising its quality and safety. Considering the recent interest of consumers in using hemp for food purposes, in the present work, a small survey on mycotoxin contamination was carried out during 2018-2022 in hemp seed samples cultivated in Italy for food use. The results showed a limited occurrence of the most common regulated mycotoxins (aflatoxins [AFs], fumonisins [FBs], ochratoxin A [OTA], deoxynivalenol [DON] and zearalenone), but very high levels of alternariols, reaching a maximum value of 24.4, 308, 226 and 288 µg/kg for tenuazonic acid [TeA], tentoxin [TEN], alternariol [AOH] and alternariol monoether, respectively. In the same period, an investigation carried out in an experimental field showed that fungal contamination and mycotoxin occurrence were influenced by different meteorological conditions and different varieties.


Alternaria spp; Cannabis sativa; Fusarium spp; mycotoxins; survey.

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