Patulin Residues in Apple Products by cvuas


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Patulin Residues in Apple Products – Investigations
from Year 2012

Report from a day in the lab


In 2012 CVUA Stuttgart analyzed 36 samples of apple products
(10 from organic production) for the presence of patulin.

                                                  •   None of the 23 samples of apple
                                             juice (2 from organic production) were
                                             found with quantities of patulin exceeding
                                             the legal maximum residue limit (MRL).

                                                  •   All 7 samples of baby food were or-
                                             ganic. Patulin was detected in one sample,
                                             but the amount was significantly lower than
                                             the legal MRL.

                                                  •   None of the 6 samples of apple
                                             sauce (1 from organic production) were
                                             found with patulin.

The residue situation is thereby assessed to be positive.


Apples are Germans’ favorite fruit. In addition to being eaten fresh, apples
are also consumed in a wide variety of other forms, including apple juice
(clear and cloudy), apple sauce, apple compote (also for babies and
young children), and in dried or fermented forms (apple cider, apple wine,
etc.). Apples are the most important raw material for the production of
juice in moderate climate zones. In many European countries apple juice
is one of the leaders in production volume. In Germany, an average of 13
liters is consumed per person per year. Fruit juices are basically seen not
as drinks, but as “fluid fruits”. Their sugar content and source of energy
are not to be underrated. Because apples and their products contain many
vitamins, minerals and trace elements, they are highly valued for their nu-
tritious benefits to babies and small children, as well as to seniors.

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Patulin is a secondary metabolite of various fungi from the genus penicilli-
um, aspergillus und byssochlamys. Although patulin can occur in various
moldy plant-based foods such as fruits (wine grapes, cherries, raspber-
ries, strawberries, peaches) and grains, the main source of human con-
tamination comes from rotten pome fruits (pears and apples, products
such as apple juice and apple sauce and, in France, apple cider). If these
moldy or blighted fruits are further processed into the above-mentioned
apple products, or if products such as apple juice and apple sauce be-
come moldy during storage, the mycotoxins will find their way into our di-
ets. Other fruit juices and tomato juice contribute very little to patulin ex-

It has been observed that, in apples, patulin rarely migrates from mold-
affected parts into healthy tissue. If a wide swath is cut around the affect-
ed area, the remainder of the fruit can still be processed or eaten. This is
not the case, however, for other types of affected fruit. Patulin is relatively
stable when given a short-acting heat-treatment (pasteurization), especial-
ly in a sour pH environment.

                             The fermentation and sulphurization processes
                             of patulin-containing grapes as well as apple
                             juices destroy this mycotoxin. Patulin is desig-
                             nated as genotoxic and teratogenetic. In com-
                             parison to other mycotoxins, there is little risk of
                             exposure to patulin for the European popula-

However, because apple products are among the first types of food given
to infants during or after the phase of nursing and to small children, it is
nevertheless important to remain vigilant regarding the possibility of con-
tamination from patulin in these fruit products.


Analytical results of patulin in the apple product samples are presented in
the following tables:

Table 1: Comparison of Patulin Results in Apple Juice from Organic and Conven-
tional Production
                                  No. Samples       Quantity        Highest
                    No. Samples
     Patulin                       Containing      (from posi-      Quantity
                                     Patulin        tive sam-        [µg/kg]
                                                  ples) [µg/kg]
                        2           2 (100%)            9.3            15.4
                        21          12 (57%)            7.5            21.1
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The results show that 57% of the conventionally produced apple juice
samples were found to contain patulin. Nevertheless, the highest quantity
detected (21.1 µg/kg) was under the legal MRL of 50 µg/kg for fruit juices
[1]. Only 2 samples from organic production were analyzed, so the values
cannot be seen as representative. The patulin content detected in these
products was also significantly lower than the legal MRL for juices. It can
be added here that the patulin content of 4 samples of pear juice (one
from organic production) was also analyzed and found with a very low
level of 1.2 µg/kg.

Table 2: Patulin in Apple Compote/Sauce from Organic and Conventional Pro-
                                No. Samples              No. Samples
                                 Analyzed              Containing Patulin
                                     1                         0
                                     4                         0

None of the 5 samples of apple compote/sauce were detected with patu-
lin. The legal MRL for these solid-type products (not fluid) is 25 µg/kg [1].

Table 3: Patulin Content in Baby Food (cooked fruits and juices) from Organic
                                         No. Samples           Highest
                       No. Samples
       Patulin                            Containing          Quantity
                                            Patulin            [µg/kg]
                            7              1 (14.3%)               3.0

Of the 7 analyzed baby food products (5 cooked fruits and 2 fruit juices),
all of which were produced organically, only one sample of cooked fruit
contained patulin. With a quantity of 3.0 µg/kg, the level was well under
the legal MRL of 10 µg/kg for solid as well as fluid products [1].
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 [1] VO (EG) 1881/2006: Commission Regulation Nr. 1881/2006 from 19
December, 2006 for the determination of the maximum allowable content
of specific contaminants in foods (ABl. L 364/5), last adjusted via EU Reg-
ulation Nr. 594/2012 from 5 July, 2012 (ABl. L 176/43).

Photo credits:

CVUA Stuttgart


Tamara Hummel, Margit Kettl-Grömminger, Renate Schnaufer.

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