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Lidl Recalls Snack Day Sweet Popcorn due to the Presence of Tropane Alkaloids

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has issued a recall notice as Lidl Ireland is recalling two batches of Snack Day Sweet Popcorn due to an elevated level of tropane alkaloids. The implicated product was on sale in Lidl Ireland stores from 7th May.

Lidl has issued an in-store notice requesting customers who have bought this product to return it to a Lidl store.

So what are tropane alkaloids? Tropane alkaloids occur naturally in many members of the plant family Solanaceae. I have written about Solanaceae before. More typically they are known as the nightshade family.  Capsicums include child peppers and bell peppers. The Solanum family include many foods that we eat on a regular basis including potato (S. tuberosum), the tomato (S. lycopersicum), and aubergine (S. melongena).   Some members of the family with a sinister history include the mandrake and of course deadly nightshade.

Tropane alkaloids are secondary metabolites that are produced by plants that are toxic to humans - some common examples include cocaine, or solanine is the glycoalkaloid that can be found in potatoes. Green potatoes can contain high levels of solanine and this is why they should not be eaten.

Atropine is the particular tropane alkaloid associated with deadly nightshade. Scopolamine is another example. Interestingly there were two notifications on the RASFF Portal for scopolamine in Germany earlier in the summer and Germany is where this product is sourced from.

One alert in May 2018 was in Germany for atropine (6.60 µg/kg - ppb) and scopolamine (1.77 µg/kg - ppb) in popcorn from France. The second was June 2018 in Germany for scopolamine (10.3 µg/kg - ppb) in popcorn in grain from Argentina.

This is not a new issue because in 2015 again in Germany atropine (29 µg/kg - ppb) and scopolamine (6 µg/kg - ppb) was identified in microwave popcorn from Spain. In fact since 2006 there are 26 notifications on the RASFF portal for scopolamine in a range of products.

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