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Recently, rhodamine B (RhB) in paprika and chilli has attracted much attention. Almost all the literature has deemed that the detectable RhB was attributed to malicious intents in the fabrication process. However, the occurrence of increasing cases with ultratrace levels of RhB was difficult to understand on the basis of that statement. Here, we report on the discovery of environmental RhB contamination in paprika during its vegetation process. Samples including paprika, soils, and stems collected from seven fields in the Xinjiang Region, China, were detected by ultraperformance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Far from any anthropogenic addition, the ultratrace RhB concentrations in all the paprika samples provided unambiguous evidence that environmental RhB contamination in paprika had really occurred over its growth period. Further illation suggests that the soil contaminated by RhB is one of the major contamination sources and that there may be a degradation of RhB in paprika during the late maturation stage. The discovery has significant implications for re-evaluating the origin of the RhB in paprika- and chilli-containing products.


Qingguo Lu, Wei Gao, Jingjing Du, Li Zhou, Yunhe Lian. Discovery of environmental rhodamine B contamination in paprika during the vegetation process. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2012 May 16;60(19):4773-8

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PMID: 22524706

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