|2: Adv Exp Med Biol 2002;504:173-9|
Division of Natural Products, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20204, USA.
Naturally occurring toxicant contamination of foods with mycotoxins is unavoidable and unpredictable and poses a unique challenge to food safety. Aflatoxins are toxic mold metabolites produced by toxigenic strains of Aspergillus species. Primary commodities susceptible to aflatoxin contamination include corn, peanuts and cottonseed and animal-derived foods such as milk when the animal is fed aflatoxin-contaminated feed. Risks associated with aflatoxin-contaminated foods can be reduced through the use of specific processing and decontamination procedures. Factors, which influence the effectiveness of a specific process or procedure, include the chemical stability of the mycotoxin(s), nature of the process, type and interaction with the food/feed matrix and interaction with multiple mycotoxins if present. Practical decontamination procedures must: 1) inactivate, destroy, or remove the toxin, 2) not produce or leave toxic residues in the food/feed, 3) retain the nutritive value of the food/feed, 4) not alter the acceptability or the technological properties of the product, and, if possible, 5) destroy fungal spores. For aflatoxins, multiple processing and/or decontamination schemes have been successful in reducing aflatoxin concentrations to acceptable levels. Physical cleaning and separation procedures, where the mold-damaged kernel/seed/nut is removed from the intact commodity, can result in 40-80% reduction in aflatoxins levels. Processes such as dry and wet milling result in the distribution of aflatoxin residues into less utilized fractions of the commodity. The ammoniation of aflatoxin-contaminated commodities has altered the concentrations as well as toxic and carcinogenic effects of aflatoxin by greater than 99%. Nonbiological materials such as selected anticaking agents covalently bind aflatoxins from aqueous suspensions, diminish aflatoxin uptake by animals, prevent acute aflatoxicosis, and decrease aflatoxin residues in milk. Ultimately, the best processing or decontamination process is one that is approved by regulatory agencies, cost-effective, and reduces the mycotoxin concentration to acceptable levels.