Recent surveys report the occurrence of Aspergillus and Penicillium metabolites (aflatoxins (AFLs), ochratoxin A (OTA), cyclopiazonic and mycophenolic acids (MPA), sterigmatocystin (STC), citrinin), Fusarium (trichothecenes, zearalenone (ZEA), fumonisins (FBs), enniatins (ENNs)) and Alternaria (alternariol (AOH), its methyl ether (AME), tentoxin (TE), and tenuazonic acid (TNZ)) toxins in dry Camellia sinensis and herbal tea samples. Since tea is consumed in the form of infusion, correct risk assessment needs evaluation of mycotoxins' transfer rates. We have studied the transfer of AFLs, OTA, STC, deoxynivalenol (DON), ZEA, FBs, T-2, and HT-2 toxins, AOH, AME, TE, ENN A and B, beauvericin (BEA), and MPA from the spiked green tea matrix into an infusion under variation of preparation time and water characteristics (total dissolved solids (TDS) and pH). Analytes were detected by HPLC-MS/MS. The main factors affecting transfer rate proved to be mycotoxins' polarity, pH of the resulting infusion (for OTA, FB2, and MPA) and matrix-infusion contact period. The concentration of mycotoxins increased by 20-50% within the first ten minutes of infusing, after that kinetic curve changed slowly. The concentration of DON and FB2 increased by about 10%, for ZEA, MPA, and STC it stayed constant, while for T-2, TE, AOH, and AFLs G1 and G2 it went down. Maximum transfer correlated well with analytes polarity. Maximum transfer of ENNs, BEA, STC, ZEA, and AOH into infusion was below 25%; AFLs-25-45%; DON, TE, and T-2 toxins 60-90%, FB1-80-100%. The concentration of OTA, MPA, and FB2 in the infusion depended on its pH. At pH about four, 20%, 40%, and 60% of these toxins transferred into an infusion, at pH about seven, their concentrations doubled. Water TDS did not affect transfer significantly.
Keywords: Camellia sinensis and herbal tea; HPLC-MS/MS; infusion pH; infusions; mycotoxins; transfer kinetics; transfer rate; water TDS.