Preliminary automated determination of edibility of alternative foods: Non-targeted screening for toxins in red maple leaf concentrate
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Article deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8050110
Alternative food supplies could maintain humanity despite sun-blocking global catastrophic risks (GCRs) that eliminate conventional agriculture. A promising alternative food is making leaf concentrate. However, the edibility of tree leaves is largely uncertain. To overcome this challenge, this study provides the methods for obtaining rapid toxics screening of common leaf concentrates. The investigation begins with a non-targeted approach using an ultra-high-resolution hybrid ion trap orbitrap mass spectrometer with electrospray ionization (ESI) coupled to an ultra-high pressure two-dimensional liquid chromatograph system on the most common North American leaf: the red maple. Identified chemicals from this non-targeted approach are then cross-referenced with the OpenFoodTox database to identify toxic chemicals. Identified toxins are then screened for formula validation and evaluated for risk as a food. The results after screening show that red maple leaf concentrate contains at least eight toxic chemicals, which upon analysis do not present substantial risks unless consumed in abundance. This indicates that red maple leaf is still a potential alternative food. The results are discussed in the context of expanding the analysis with open science and using leaf extract from other plants that are not traditionally used as foods to offset current global hunger challenges, and move to a more sustainable food system while also preparing for GCRs.