Analytical Separation of Carcinogenic and Genotoxic Alkenylbenzenes in Foods and Related Products (2010-2020)

Toxins (Basel). 2021 May 28;13(6):387. doi: 10.3390/toxins13060387.


Alkenylbenzenes are potentially toxic (genotoxic and carcinogenic) compounds present in plants such as basil, tarragon, anise star and lemongrass. These plants are found in various edible consumer products, e.g., popularly used to flavour food. Thus, there are concerns about the possible health consequences upon increased exposure to alkenylbenzenes especially due to food intake. It is therefore important to constantly monitor the amounts of alkenylbenzenes in our food chain. A major challenge in the determination of alkenylbenzenes in foods is the complexity of the sample matrices and the typically low amounts of alkenylbenzenes present. This review will therefore discuss the background and importance of analytical separation methods from papers reported from 2010 to 2020 for the determination of alkenylbenzenes in foods and related products. The separation techniques commonly used were gas and liquid chromatography (LC). The sample preparation techniques used in conjunction with the separation techniques were various variants of extraction (solvent extraction, liquid-liquid extraction, liquid-phase microextraction, solid phase extraction) and distillation (steam and hydro-). Detection was by flame ionisation and mass spectrometry (MS) in gas chromatography (GC) while in liquid chromatography was mainly by spectrophotometry.

Keywords: alkenylbenzenes; capillary electrophoresis; food; gas chromatography; liquid chromatography; sample preparation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzene / isolation & purification*
  • Carcinogens / isolation & purification*
  • Food Analysis*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Liquid Phase Microextraction
  • Liquid-Liquid Extraction
  • Mutagens / isolation & purification*
  • Solid Phase Extraction


  • Carcinogens
  • Mutagens
  • Benzene