Cyanogenic glycosides are HCN-producing phytotoxins; HCN is a powerful and a rapidly acting poison. It is not difficult to find plants containing these compounds in the food supply and/or in medicinal herb collections. The objective of this study was to investigate the distribution of total cyanide in nine genera (Dolichos, Ginkgo, Hordeum, Linum, Phaseolus, Prunus, Phyllostachys, Phytolacca, and Portulaca) of edible plants and the effect of the processing on cyanide concentration. Total cyanide content was measured by ion chromatography following acid hydrolysis and distillation. Kernels of Prunus genus are used medicinally, but they possess the highest level of total cyanide of up to 2259.81 CN-/g dry weight. Trace amounts of cyanogenic compounds were detected in foodstuffs such as mungbeans and bamboo shoots. Currently, except for the WHO guideline for cassava, there is no global standard for the allowed amount of cyanogenic compounds in foodstuffs. However, our data emphasize the need for the guidelines if plants containing cyanogenic glycosidesare to be developed as dietary supplements.
The article is published online in the journal Toxicological Research and is free to access.