Presence of mycotoxins, heavy metals and nitrate residues in organic commercial cereal-based foods sold in the Greek market

  • Adriana SkendiEmail author
  • Maria PapageorgiouEmail author
  • Maria Irakli
  • Dimitris Katsantonis
Original Article


The aim of the present work was to report on the occurrence of contaminants and trace elements in organically grown commercial cereal products, available in the Greek market. Moreover, the level of contamination of domestic organic cereals was compared with that of imported ones. To this end, the level of contamination by heavy metals (Pb, Cd), nitrates, trace elements (Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cr, Ni, Co) and mycotoxins (aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin, and T-2) were reported. Seventy-six organic cereals and derived products of domestic and imported origin were tested including rice, barley, oat, wheat, maize and two samples made of a mixture of grains. The levels of contamination were calculated and compared to the recommended or regulated maximum levels. The maximum levels were exceeded for lead (2), cadmium (1), aflatoxins (4), and ochratoxin (1). Contamination of samples by nitrate was below the allowed level. The level of contamination in domestic organic samples was similar to that of imported ones, except for cadmium with imported samples being more contaminated. The findings of this study are important in terms of risk to human health, but they do not support nor reject the hypothesis that organic cereals are less contaminated than the conventional ones.


Heavy metals HPLC Mycotoxins ICP-OES Organic cereal products 



This work was supported by the European Social Fund and national resources through the Public Investment Program, Research Project ARCHIMEDES III, subproject ΟΠΣ 383572 “Monitoring mycotoxins and radioactivity level in cereal products of Greece”.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

3_2019_1231_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (45 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 45 kb)


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Copyright information

© Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food TechnologyAlexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki (ATEITh)ThessaloníkiGreece
  2. 2.Hellenic Agricultural Organization, DemeterInstitute of Plant Breeding and Genetic ResourcesThessaloníkiGreece

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