Straightforward analytical method to determine opium alkaloids in poppy seeds and bakery products

Lopez Sanchez, Patricia; Pereboom-de Fauw, Diana P.K.H.; Mulder, Patrick P.J.; Spanjer, Martien; Stoppelaar, Joyce de; Mol, Hans G.J.; Nijs, Monique de


A straightforward method to determine the content of six opium alkaloids (morphine, codeine, thebaine, noscapine, papaverine and narceine) in poppy seeds and bakery products was developed and validated down to a limit of quantification (LOQ) of 0.1 mg/kg. The method was based on extraction with acetonitrile/water/formic acid, ten-fold dilution and analysis by LC-MS/MS using a pH 10 carbonate buffer. The method was applied for the analysis of 41 samples collected in 2015 in the Netherlands and Germany. All samples contained morphine ranging from 0.2 to 240 mg/kg. The levels of codeine and thebaine ranged from below LOQ to 348 mg/kg and from below LOQ to 106 mg/kg, respectively. Sixty percent of the samples exceeded the guidance reference value of 4 mg/kg of morphine set by BfR in Germany, whereas 25% of the samples did not comply with the limits set for morphine, codeine, thebaine and noscapine by Hungarian legislation.