Risk assessment of plants and plant preparations

Schumann, R.; Klenow, S.; Dusemund, B.; Poeting, A.; Lampen, A.

Introduction: In the last years and decades more and more new plants came to the market as food or old crops have been rediscovered. Based on the presence of secondary plant metabolites specific effects are often attributed to these plants and/or derived preparations. Depending on the amount and the accompanying substances in extracts and preparations these substances can also be toxic. In many cases, plants and plant preparations are not adequately tested for their safety before marketing. In the European Union, authorization procedures and health assessments are only required for foods that are considered novel foods or produced from genetically modified organisms. A working group of federal and state governments, the BfR has worked with, has drawn up a list of nearly 600 plants and plant parts, which should facilitate the assessment of these plants (or plant parts) and derived preparations by food inspection bodies and food industry. Objectives: 18 plants or parts of plants were selected for an evaluation because of their known pharmacological or psychotropic effects or due to possible health risks. Method / Design: The risk assessments of these plants or parts of plants, including for example goji berries and yohimbe bark, were performed using the “Guidance on Safety assessment of botanicals and botanical preparations intended for use as ingredients in food supplements” of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Results: Nine of the 18 plants or parts of plants pose a risk to consumers and should not be used in food. Five plants or parts of plants might pose risks when used in food. For four plants or plant parts, no risks were seen. Conclusions: The health assessments are intended to be a first step in the process of harmonization at European level. The opinions are published in a booklet and accessible on the web

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Schumann, R. / Klenow, S. / Dusemund, B. / et al: Risk assessment of plants and plant preparations. 2015.

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