Hercegovački pršut as a traditional dry-cured smoked ham (prosciutto) produced by using an open fire that can be potentially contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and can pose a health risk for consumers. The aim of this research was to identify the types and concentrations of 16 PAHs in 34 samples of traditionally smoked prosciutto. Out of 16 investigated PAHs, identified in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) list of priority pollutants, 14 compounds were detected. Average levels of cancerogenic benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) and PAH4 (benzo[a]anthracene (BaA), benzo[b]fluoranthene (BbF), chrysene (Chry), and benzo[a]pyrene (BaP)) ranged from <LOQ (level of quantification) to 5.08 μg/kg and 0.45 μg/kg to 22.67 μg/kg. Two analyzed samples exceeded currently prescribed values according to the Bosnia and Herzegovina legislation for BaP concentrations and one sample for PAH4 content. PAH16 concentrations were on average between 2.92 μg/kg and 87.6 μg/kg. The highest PAH concentrations were found in samples from the Herzegovina-Neretva canton. The results of the research highlight the importance of standardizing smoking procedures and manufacturing practice, in the production of Hercegovački pršut, in order to reduce the PAH content.
Keywords: Hercegovački pršut; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); prosciutto; traditional smoking.