Ricinoleic Acid as a Marker for Ergot Impurities in Rye and Rye Products

Ergot alkaloid and ricinoleic acid contents of 63 ergot sclerotia samples from rye throughout Germany of the harvest years 2006−2009 were determined. Alkaloid contents were analyzed by means of high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection (HPLC-FLD) and ricinoleic acid contents by means of gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID). Ergot alkaloid amounts ranged from 0.01 to 0.2 g/100 g of sclerotia with an average amount of 0.08 g/100 g. Ergotamine and ergocristine were identified as lead alkaloids representing 57% (w/w) of the total alkaloid content. The average ricinoleic acid amount in the ergot sclerotia was 10.3 g/100 g. Because of the low variation of ricinoleic acid content in the ergot sclerotia, a new method for the determination of ricinoleic acid in rye products as a marker for ergot contaminations was developed. This method allows the determination of ergot impurities as low as 0.01% (w/w). Furthermore, 29 rye products (flours, bread mix, bread) were investigated for their ricinoleic acid and ergot alkaloid contents.