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Food Testing & Analysis – Naturally Occurring Toxic Substances (NOTS)

Food Testing & Analysis - Naturally Occurring Toxic Substances (NOTS)
Food Testing & Analysis – NOTS

Certain types of foods contain potentially harmful natural toxins, which are classified as Naturally Occurring Toxic Substances (NOTS). These toxins may be of fungal or plant origin or may originate from marine animals such as fishes.

NOTS of fungal origin include mushroom toxins like that found in the Death Cap mushroom. Therefore, one should be areful of exotic or uncommon mushroom preparations served in foreign restaurants.

Plant toxins include cyanogenic glycosides, which occur naturally in raw or unprocessed cassava and bamboo shoots, and can lead to exposure to hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and its related toxicity. Therefore, cassava and bamboo shoots should be consumed only after removing the outer skin, soaking in water, followed by thorough cooking.

Apple and pear seeds and the inner stony pit (kernel) of apricots and peaches contain a naturally occurring substance called amygdalin. Amygdalin can release HCN in the gut causing discomfort or illness. It can be fatal if too much is consumed over a short period of time. One should be careful of fruits with seeds and stones, in particular, canned fruits.

Other plant toxins include furocoumarins (in parsnip), glycoalkaloids (potatoes), lectins (red kidney beans), oxalic acid (rhubarb) and curcubitacins (zucchini). Sprouting potatoes and green potatoes must be avoided as these contain high levels of glycoalkaloids, and therefore, poisonous.

So, if packaged potato chips contain green colored chips, these should not be consumed. Also, kidney beans must be thoroughly cooked before consumption. Moreover, if any zucchini preparation tastes bitter, discard it immediately.

Marine toxins can include mercury, which accumulates in large fishes over time, including sharks, marlins, broadbills and swordfish. Pregnant women and small children should avoid eating meat from these large sea fishes, as the mercury hampers cognitive development.

The ciguatera toxin causes food poisoning due to consumption of larger and older fish that live in warm ocean waters. Scombroid poisoning occurs as a result of inadequate temperature control of fish. It can occur when fish that has not been chilled to 4°C or below is eaten.

The poisoning is due to histamine, which builds up to high levels in the fish flesh. Avoid eating any sea fish preparation which doesn’t taste or smell right.

We have a state-of-the-art laboratory that is accredited by NABL and approved by FSSAI, which regularly carries out testing for NOTS in various food samples, as per FSSAI guidelines. The FSSAI has recommended the safe upper limit for a number of NOTS in food stuffs:

NOTS Article of food Maximum limit
Agaric acid ·      Food containing mushrooms 

·      Alcoholic beverages

100 ppm
Hydrocyanic acid ·      Nougat, marzipan or its substitutes or similar products 

·      Canned stone fruits

·      Alcoholic beverages

·      Confectionery

·      Stone fruit juices

5 ppm
Hypericine ·      Alcoholic beverages 1 ppm
Saffrole ·      Meat preparations and meat products, including poultry and game 

·      Fish preparations and fish products

·      Soups and sauces

·      Non-alcoholic beverages

·      Alcoholic beverages

·      Food containing mace and nutmeg

10 ppm


We have a dedicated team of scientists, well conversed in modern techniques, using the latest instrumentation to determine the NOTS contamination of various foodstuffs.

Please contact us today using the quick query form on the right or by calling us now on +91-11-45754575 to get your food samples tested for NOTS.

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Once you fill out this form, you will:

1. Get an email or phone from our team to understand your exact requirement.
2. After that, a quotation catering to your requirement will be sent to your mail.
3. Once you approve the quotation, you can send us the sample for testing and we would provide you with the test report.