Fate of Ergot Alkaloids during Laboratory Scale Durum Processing and Pasta Production

Toxins (Basel). 2019 Mar 31;11(4):195. doi: 10.3390/toxins11040195.


The fate of ergot alkaloids during the milling of durum and subsequent production and cooking of pasta was examined. Durum samples containing varying amounts of ergot sclerotia (0.01⁻0.1% by mass) were milled, and all milling product was analyzed for 10 ergot alkaloids using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. Spaghetti was prepared from the semolina obtained during milling. Ergocristine, ergocristinine, and ergotamine were the predominant ergot alkaloids observed in the milling fractions and spaghetti. Approximately 84% of the total ergot alkaloid mass of the whole grain durum resided in the milling product fractions associated with the outer kernel layers (bran, shorts, feeds). No consistent loss of ergot alkaloids was observed during the production or cooking of spaghetti. However, changes in the ratio of R- to S-enantiomers occurred during the milling and cooking of spaghetti. Products containing bran, shorts, and feeds, as well as cooked spaghetti, contained a higher proportion of the less biologically active S-enantiomers. The results of this study emphasize the need to monitor R- and S-enantiomers, and to consider food and feed products, as opposed to whole grain, when assessing any exposure of consumers to ergot alkaloids.

Keywords: bran; cooking; dietary exposure; milling; mycotoxin; semolina.

MeSH terms

  • Cooking*
  • Edible Grain / chemistry*
  • Ergot Alkaloids / analysis*
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Handling*
  • Laboratories
  • Triticum*


  • Ergot Alkaloids