Mycotoxins in Food: Detection and Control

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Due to high mycotoxin concentrations in surface tissues of grains afflicted with Fusarium head Blight, sorting, cleaning, dehulling, and debranning reduce mycotoxin contamination of the flour. A large fraction of mycotoxins can be removed with damaged kernels, fine material, and dust Cheli et al. The efficiency of such cleaning in mycotoxin reduction was demonstrated for T-2 and HT-2 toxins Schwake-Anduschus et al. Scudamore and Patel reported effect of cleaning on the content of aflatoxins and fumonisins. In the last decade, several authors reported DON reduction through debranning e. The concept was extended to masked mycotoxins such as DONglucoside Kostelanska et al.

Recently, the fate of fumonisins along the entire corn meal production chain has been elucidated Generotti et al. Similar effects were reported for OTA in bakery products Scudamore et al. Mycotoxins were retrieved mainly in the steeping and washing water. The effect of bread baking on DON is controversial.

The effect of the fermentation of dough on mycotoxins was also evaluated by Vidal et al. OTA remained stable, whereas DON concentration increased from unkneaded mix to fermented dough and decreased during baking. Zachariasova et al. Other authors Bergamini et al.

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Baking time and temperature were the key factors of DON reduction. Protease and xylanase used in the bakery industry released additional DON from the matrix during kneading and fermentation of dough Simsek et al. ZEN was reported to remain stable during bread baking Cano-Sancho et al. Numanoglu et al.

Nivalenol degradation accelerated with increasing bakery processing temperature Bretz et al. Results on fumonisins are less extensive but equally contradictory. A more recent study Numanoglu et al. Studies of the fate of the depsipeptide mycotoxins enniatins ENNs and beauvericin BEA during processing of cereals are limited. Vaclavikova et al. Meca et al. Ergot alkaloids in cereals attract increasing attention of food safety authorities EFSA Recent incidents of contamination with ergot alkaloids above tolerable levels were reported particularly in small organic enterprises Masloff An explanation is that equipment for optical sorting is too expensive for small enterprises Dusemund et al.

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Processing sclerotia-contaminated flour in bread, pancakes, or noodles result in a loss of the toxicologically relevant R -isomers. In pasta, the solubility of mycotoxins in boiling water determines the level of consumer exposure. According to Visconti et al. Brera et al. Cocoa is grown in West Africa, Asia, and Latin America mainly as raw material for chocolate production. Suboptimal storage and processing conditions in producing areas frequently cause fungal contaminations producing aflatoxins and OTA Copetti et al.

In order to minimize the OTA contamination of cocoa, cocoa-producing countries are developing new post-harvest treatment guidelines. The first step of cocoa processing is opening the harvested pods at the farm site; then, the beans are fermented naturally by yeasts and bacteria. Experiments in Brazil Copetti et al. Fermented beans are dried in the sun on wooden platforms or on the ground. The OTA level significantly increases during transition from fermentation to drying Dano et al. Drying must be therefore conducted as rapidly as possible.

In processing plants, dried beans are broken and winnowed to obtain de-shelled kernels nibs. The nib is sterilized with steam and roasted directly without natural or with addition of alkali to develop the final flavor and color. The effect of roasting on aflatoxins in cocoa was evaluated by Mendez-Albores et al. Mycotoxin levels in alkalized cocoa powder tend to be reduced Copetti et al. Alkalization appeared to be more effective in reducing aflatoxin than OTA. Results of Mendez-Albores et al. Turcotte et al. Overall, it can be inferred that processing cocoa bean to chocolate leaves negligible concentrations of OTA and aflatoxins in the final product.

In addition to the degradation described earlier, production of chocolate includes addition of other ingredients e. The European Commission currently considers that introducing maximum limit of OTA in cocoa or cocoa products does not appear necessary for the protection of public health European Commission EC Regulation No. Green coffee beans are one of numerous food commodities significantly contaminated with OTA Speijers and van Egmond Coffee and cocoa beans are hygroscropic and thus vulnerable to contamination with OTA during storage and transport Magan and Aldred Scudamore reviewed the effect of roasting and brewing of coffee on the level of OTA as compared to green coffee beans.

OTA levels were drastically reduced during production of soluble coffee. However, other investigators found lower OTA reduction Leoni et al. The major mycotoxin in fruit juices is PAT. The starting point of reducing PAT in apple-derived products is the selection of intact apples and the removal of rotten apples.

Food Safety - Mycotoxins in Foods

Several studies have shown that PAT is stable in slightly acidic apple and grape juices but is decomposed during the production of cider Moss and Long A number of studies on the effect of different physical, chemical, or microbiological food processes on PAT concentrations have been performed Leggett et al. PAT reacts with sulfhydryl thiol groups of proteins, polypeptides, and amino acids available in certain food commodities such as cereals to form intra- and intermolecular protein cross links.

AFB 1 contaminating dairy feed may be metabolized in the animal into its monohydroxy derivative form aflatoxin M 1 which is carried over into milk Holzapfel et al. AFM 1 or its metabolites can then contaminate subsequent dairy products. Distribution and stability of AFM 1 during processing, ripening, and storage of Telemes cheese was studied by Govaris et al.

Concentration of AFM 1 in the curds was about four times higher than in milk but it fell in the cheese during ripening. In certain cheese kinds in Turkey, the concentration of AFM 1 was, however, higher in the cheese than in bulk milk Bakiri Fermentation of milk to yogurt at pH 4. In opposition with these findings, Yousef and Marth reported that AFM 1 in fermented milk remained stable. Separation of milk components partitioned the toxin in accordance with its affinity for casein and the lack of solubility in fats. Mahoney and Molyneux assumed that aflatoxins are not found in vegetable oils but there is increasing evidence that this does not apply to non-purified or crude vegetable oils Shephard et al.

High incidences of aflatoxin contaminations in edible vegetable oils were even reported Bordin et al. The different processes used for vegetable oil extraction may partially explain these discrepancies. Edible vegetable oils indeed can be extracted from oleaginous material either by mechanical pressing or by solvents. Distribution of mycotoxins from steeped corn to corn germs in wet milling depends on their solubility. Water-soluble mycotoxins such as DON were found at high concentrations in steep liquor but at low levels in the solid germ, fiber, and gluten fractions.

The inverse is true for ZEN, which is relatively insoluble in water Table 2. Similarly, Parker and Melnick found most aflatoxins after extraction of oil from peanut and maize in defatted meal. In their work, corn oil extracted with chloroform contained more aflatoxins than oil extracted with hexane. Refining based on alkaline neutralization, washing, bleaching, and deodorization was reported to remove mycotoxins from oil Kamimura et al. There are no studies in the literature relating degumming to the presence of aflatoxins.

In the deacidification step of refining, fatty acids are removed using an alkali chemical refining or water vapor physical refining. Kamimura et al. These results confirmed an earlier finding by Parker and Melnick that sodium hydroxide efficiently removed aflatoxins from peanut oil. ZEN is removed below a level of concern from corn germ oil by alkaline treatment at pH 9—10 Slope et al. Bleaching consists of introducing an adsorptive bleaching material, called bleaching earth or clay, under vacuum condition and high temperature, and subsequent removal of the agent by filtration.

Conditions adopted in the deodorizing process can lead to complete removal of aflatoxins from vegetable oils, as Kamimura et al. The levels of trichothecene and ZEN were reduced, too. Thus, it is possible to ensure safe edible vegetable oil provided it is properly processed. In process where fermentation is followed by distillation, mycotoxins are not present in the alcohol fraction but may be increased in the spent grain product.

Analysis of the various fermentation products showed that there was little fumonisin degradation during fermentation. No FB 1 was found in distilled ethanol or centrifuged solids. Most mycotoxins can survive brewing and end up in the beer; DON is found at highest concentrations Scott Lancova et al. Schwartz et al. Fumonisins were later indeed detected in domestic and imported beer in Canada Scott et al. Most recently, the fate of 14 mycotoxins during beer brewing was investigated by Inoue et al. Food safety is significantly affected by mycotoxin contamination of dried fruits, nuts, and spices.

Dry fruits such as raisins, sultanas, figs, apricots, and dates are consumed worldwide. Cultivation and processing of these fruits in warm climates rise mycotoxin risk, especially concerning aflatoxins and ochratoxin A. The pH of fruits ranging from 2. Fruits become increasingly susceptible to fungal invasion during ripening, as the pH of the tissue increases and skin layers soften Drusch and Ragab Other factors contamination level are harvesting and drying conditions and moisture content Bullerman et al.

Dry and wet milling may redistribute aflatoxins into less utilized fractions. In groundnuts, higher levels of aflatoxin are associated with small, immature pods. Removing these pods reduces aflatoxin concentration in shelled lots Dorner To remove foreign material and unshelled pods, shelled peanuts are subjected to gravity separation. Because highly contaminated kernels are less dense, this process reduces aflatoxin contamination Davidson et al.

Shelled kernels can be further separated by size through a series of slotted screens; generally, aflatoxins are associated with smaller-sized kernels Whitaker et al. Further, aflatoxin reduction can be obtained by blanching combined with electronic color sorting Cole et al. Blanching and color sorting is used for other nuts such as pistachios, too. Among dried fruits, figs are the most challenging. Removal of damaged fruits, solar drying, fluorescence sorting, and treatment with sulfur dioxide are effective mycotoxin mitigation strategies Scott and Trucksess Sun-drying figs are often practiced in tropical countries but because it is slow, it allows proliferation of molds producing mycotoxins.

Ozay et al. Comparison of different drying systems with sun-drying revealed that ultrasound treatment combined with osmotic solutions is most effective Villalobos et al. To the best of our knowledge, the effect of food processing on mycotoxin levels in spices was not studied. A moderate reduction of OTA and aflatoxin content in pepper by gamma radiation was reported Jalili et al. Mycotoxin contamination of food commodities, especially of staple foods, poses a serious threat to human health.

Efficient reduction of mycotoxin exposure via food products requires the utilization of all available technologies from good agricultural and storages practices and selection of raw materials suitable for human consumption to the application of food processing technologies including biotechnology. Their perception of food safety has been heavily biased towards man-made pollutants but toxic compounds of natural origin are slowly gaining attention.

Food industry has recognized the trend, as intellectual property protection efforts in mycotoxin detoxification show He and Zhou Mitigation of mycotoxins as a side effect of established food processing techniques, such as fermentation of apple juice or nixtamalization of maize flour, should be utilized whenever possible. Development of new techniques dedicated to mycotoxin mitigation will, however, require extensive research. The impact of mycotoxin mitigation processes on the nutritional composition and organoleptic quality of food and their influence on other contaminants such as acrylamide Anese et al.

Novel physical and chemical treatments cold plasma and novel detoxification agents microbes or purified enzymes for mycotoxin mitigation in food would have to undergo regulatory approval, which implies a risk analysis. Disappearance of a parent mycotoxin does not necessarily mean detoxification, if the toxin is converted into a form that escapes detection, yet remains toxic. Often, the mechanism of mycotoxin transformation is not fully understood, the products have not been characterized, and their bioavailability and toxicity compared to the parent compound has not been assessed.

Limited toxicological investigations on mycotoxin degradation products were restricted to in vitro and acute in vivo studies which provide insufficient information regarding the safety at chronic low level exposure. New predictive tools in toxicology Schilter et al. Without such knowledge and as a precautionary approach, risk assessment has to assume that all mycotoxin forms have the same bioavailability and toxicity as the respective parent compound EFSA While detoxification of mycotoxins has been studied extensively, little is known about the potential of food processing to increase or hide mycotoxin exposure.

Chemical and physical treatments applied to food may release mycotoxins from masked forms and make them bioavailable or convert mycotoxins into forms not detectable by conventional analytical methods Rychlik et al.

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Analytical tools for mycotoxins transformed by processing structural modification, binding to food matrix need to be developed. Most research on mycotoxins focused on regulated mycotoxins. The recent unexpected discovery of the fungus Stachybotrys chartarum in culinary herbs Biermaier et al. Highly toxic metabolites of the fungus Stenocarpella maydis recently discovered in maize grains provide another example of toxicologically relevant non-regulated mycotoxins in food Rogers et al. Even well-studied fungal metabolites may raise new food safety concerns, such as AAL toxin of Alternaria alternata if it occurs in tomato juice Karlovsky Genome sequencing revealed that fungi-contaminating food commodities have the potential to produce 30—60 secondary metabolites each, some of which might turn out to be mycotoxins.

Mitigation strategies have to be adapted to newly discovered mycotoxins, once their toxicity and level of exposure have been assessed. Undoubtedly, the list of regulated mycotoxins will grow. Criteria for prioritization should be consumption of the contaminated commodity staple foods and commodities consumed by sensitive population groups like young children , occurrence at high levels in such commodities and unfavorable toxicological profiles. Different geographical regions and target groups require different prioritizations. An example is fumonisin contamination of maize: in Africa, maize is a staple food, causing human exposure to fumonisins that would exceed the tolerable daily intake TDI even if EU limits of contamination could be achieved Shephard et al.

Most consumers in Europe, however, would not exceed TDI for fumonisins even if they consume maize exceeding the EU limit by an order of magnitude. Guidelines have been elaborated on how to identify relevant targets for mitigation, determine the effectiveness of mitigation measures, and assess the risk of unintended consequences van der Fels-Klerx et al. Food processing can reduce mycotoxin exposure by destroying or eliminating mycotoxins, by transforming them into less toxic derivatives, by adsorbing mycotoxins to solid surfaces or by reducing their bioavailability due to chemical attachment to food matrix structures.

Complete elimination of mycotoxins from food product by processing can rarely be achieved. Several processing techniques of proven value mostly physical treatments have been in use for a long time.

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These are the only mycotoxin mitigation methods currently applicable to human food. Few chemical and biotechnological techniques reducing mycotoxin content have been approved for animal feed but many promising strategies remain at an experimental stage. In addition to mycotoxin derivatives modified by microorganisms or plants EFSA , the risk assessment of mycotoxins in food has to include mycotoxin forms resulting from food processing.

Before a novel mycotoxin decontamination technique is approved, chemical identity and toxicity of the reaction products have to be determined. Availability of analytical methods which permit reliable detection of these products is a key prerequisite for risk assessment. Bioavailability and toxicity of transformation products should be assessed using a systematic approach and generally acknowledged testing systems. This in turn allows prioritizing those which require more detailed toxicological assessment and the choice of specific, adequate risk assessment options.

Recently established legislative criteria for detoxification processes applied to feed may serve as a model EC In the absence of adequate toxicological data, mycotoxin forms generated during processing must be assumed to have the same toxicity, bioavailability and carcinogenic potency as the respective parent compounds. The development of mitigation strategies should prioritize mycotoxins that regularly occur at high levels in highly consumed commodities and have unfavorable toxicological profiles. The ultimate goal of mycotoxin mitigation is to prevent adverse health effects caused by foodborne exposure to mycotoxins while preserving nutritional and organoleptic quality of food.

The opinions expressed herein and the conclusions of this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of ILSI Europe nor those of its member companies. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Impact of food processing and detoxification treatments on mycotoxin contamination.

Open Access. First Online: 23 August Introduction Toxic secondary metabolites produced by fungi belong to the most toxic contaminants regularly occurring in a wide range of food commodities Bennett and Klich Spoilage and toxin formation can occur already on the field and during storage of agricultural commodities or processed food. This article focuses on food, but results obtained on feed will be considered when they can be used to estimate the efficiency of mitigation strategies potentially useful for food.

A variety of fungal species mostly from the genera Aspergillus , Penicillium , Fusarium , Alternaria , or Claviceps are known to produce mycotoxins. Table 1 Major mycotoxins and their producers, affected crops, adverse health effects and guidance values. Open image in new window. Sorting Unprocessed cereals in bulk trading often contain dust and admixtures. Broken and damaged kernels usually contain most of mycotoxin contamination Johansson et al. The first processing of agricultural goods after harvest often involves sorting, washing, or milling Grenier et al.

Figure 2 summarizes the use of these techniques. Sorting machines based on particle weight and size are in use since the end of the nineteenth century Mayer Originally, grains were sorted in bulk using centrifugation force and flotation in air flow. In the s, optical sorting was established. The operation principle is to direct streams of grains along an array of optical sensors.

When a grain differing in color is detected, the detector triggers a magnetic valve and a jet of pressurized air removes the kernel from the stream Fraenkel This principle is still used today.

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  6. Contemporary grain sorters have a throughput of dozens of tons grain per hour. Water-soluble mycotoxins can be partly washed from the surface of grains. ZEN is barely water-soluble, but well soluble in alkaline solutions. Therefore, sodium carbonate solutions are often used as an alternative to improve the effectiveness of washing steps. Additional soaking of the material in a 0. As the soaking step took a full day, this technique should already be regarded as a chemical processing step see next chapter.

    Washing and buoyancy techniques both suffer from the shortcoming that the grain must be dried after treatment before it can be stored. In order to ensure an efficient washing of contaminated commodities with water or water-based solutions, parameters such as partition coefficient or solubility should be considered and are given in Table 2. Treatment with bases Aflatoxins are unstable under alkaline conditions Kiermeier and Ruffer ; Itoh et al. Use of oxidizing agents The oxidation of aflatoxin appears to be primarily an addition directed towards the double bond of the terminal furan ring, followed by subsequent reactions involving the phenol formed on opening the lactone ring.

    Treatment with food ingredients and medical plants Certain spices, herbs, and other ingredients used in food production and home cooking were shown to detoxify mycotoxins. Distinguishing features of enzymatic detoxification Enzymatic catalysis takes a unique position among activities potentially suitable to detoxify mycotoxins.

    Intentional use of enzymes to detoxify mycotoxins in food production Enzymes are used extensively as processing aids. Examples of enzymatic activities suitable for the detoxification of mycotoxins in food processing Because fumonisins cause severe, species-specific diseases in farm animals Voss et al. Detoxification of mycotoxins as a side effect of fermentation Fermentation is food processing with the help of microorganisms.

    Detoxification of mycotoxins by pure microbial cultures with potential for applications in food production Except for Rhizopus spp. Cereals and derived products Cereals are staple food worldwide. Cocoa-chocolate Cocoa is grown in West Africa, Asia, and Latin America mainly as raw material for chocolate production. Coffee Green coffee beans are one of numerous food commodities significantly contaminated with OTA Speijers and van Egmond Fruit juices The major mycotoxin in fruit juices is PAT. Milk and other dairy products AFB 1 contaminating dairy feed may be metabolized in the animal into its monohydroxy derivative form aflatoxin M 1 which is carried over into milk Holzapfel et al.

    Vegetable oils Mahoney and Molyneux assumed that aflatoxins are not found in vegetable oils but there is increasing evidence that this does not apply to non-purified or crude vegetable oils Shephard et al. Ethanol and beer In process where fermentation is followed by distillation, mycotoxins are not present in the alcohol fraction but may be increased in the spent grain product. Dried fruits, nuts, and spices Food safety is significantly affected by mycotoxin contamination of dried fruits, nuts, and spices.

    C onflict of interest Academic members of this expert group received support from ILSI Europe the Process-related Compounds and Natural Toxins Task Force, consisting of reimbursement of travel costs and a small honorarium. Preliminary observations. Abd Alla ES Zearalenone: incidence, toxigenic fungi and chemical decontamination in Egyptian cereals. Study design and clinical outcomes. J Sci Food Agric — Aiko V, Mehta A Occurrence, detection and detoxification of mycotoxins. Front Microbiol CRC Woodhead, Cambridge, pp. J Food Prot — Google Scholar.

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    EFSA, European Food Safety Authory Guidance on the submission of a Dossier on food enzymes for safety evaluation by the scientific panel of food contact material, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids. Food and Agriculture Organization. Accessed 19 May Fliege R, Metzler M The mycotoxin patulin induces intra-and intermolecular patulin cross-links in vitro involving cysteine, lysine and histidine side chains and alfa-amino groups.

    Fraenkel H Colour sorting machine. US Patent No. CABI, Wallingford, pp. Wiley Blackwell, New Delhi, pp. Front Microbiol. He J, Zhou T Patented techniques for detoxification of mycotoxins in feeds and food matrices. Herzallah S, Al Shawabkeh K, Al Fataftah A Aflatoxin decontamination of artificially contaminated feeds by sunlight, g-radiation, and microwave heating.

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    Risk management for mycotoxin contamination of Australian maize

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    Elsevier , 16 juil. Mycotoxins, toxic compounds produced by fungi, pose a significant contamination risk in both animal feed and foods for human consumption. With its distinguished editors and international team of contributors, Mycotoxins in food summarises the wealth of recent research on how to assess the risks from mycotoxins, detect particular mycotoxins and control them at differing stages in the supply chain. Part one addresses risk assessment techniques, sampling methods, modelling and detection techniques used to measure the risk of mycotoxin contamination and the current regulations governing mycotoxin limits in food.

    Part two looks at how the risk of contamination may be controlled, with chapters on the use of HACCP systems and mycotoxin control at different stages in the supply chain. Two case studies demonstrate how these controls work for particular products. The final section details particular mycotoxins, from ochratoxin A and patulin to zearalenone and fumonisins.