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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Food Chem Toxicol 2013 Aug;58:116-23

Thermal inactivation reaction rates for ricin are influenced by pH and carbohydrates.

Zhang Z, Triplett OA, Nguyen KT, Melchior WB Jr, Taylor K, Jackson LS, Tolleson WH


Ricin is a lethal protein toxin produced by the castor bean plant. Ricin is known to possess significant heat resistance. Therefore, we placed it in a variety of foods to study the influence of the food matrix on behavior of a thermally stable protein toxin. First order rate constants for the thermal inactivation of ricin in foods and simple buffers were measured using cytotoxicity assays. We observed greater thermal stability at 75 degrees C for the cytotoxic activity of ricin when it was placed in a yogurt-containing fruit drink compared to its stability when placed in the other foods tested. We found that galactose and high molecular weight exopolysaccharides present in various dairy products contributed to the thermal stability of ricin. Differential scanning calorimetry also showed enhanced thermal stability for ricin at pH 4.5. Our results demonstrate the importance of considering pH and the presence of stabilizing ligands in the thermal inactivation of protein toxins in foods.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #23603103 DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.04.012
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Toxicological Research Food
Entry Created: 2013-09-25