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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effect of Nixtamalization (Alkaline Cooking) on Fumonisin Contaminated Corn for Production of Masa and Tortillas

Authors
item Dombrink Kurtzman, Mary Ann
item Dvorak, Timothy - US ARMY, DUGWAY, UT
item Barron, Marc - TEXAS A&M UNI, CLG STN TX
item Rooney, Lloyd - TEXAS A&M UNI, CLG STN TX

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 16, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Fumonisins are mycotoxins produced by certain molds found on corn worldwide. Low amounts of fumonisins can be present in corn products. This study asked the question: What happens to fumonisin when fumonisin-contaminated corn is processed by nixtamalization (alkaline cooking), the traditional wet method used to produce masa and tortillas? All of the processing fractions, both solid and liquid, were analyzed for the presence of fumonisins and hydrolyzed fumonisin. The amount of fumonisins in tortillas was reduced by greater that 80% compared to the raw corn. Nixtamalization appears to be a way to reduce significantly the amount of fumonisin in corn. This work represents the first time that all of the nixtamalization processing fractions were analyzed for fumonisin content.

Technical Abstract: Studies were undertaken to determine the fate of the mycotoxins, fumonisins, during the process of alkaline cooking (nixtamalization), using normal-appearing corn that was naturally contaminated with fumonisin B1 (FB1) at 8.79 ppm. Corn was processed into tortillas starting with lime-soaked corn, which was boiled and allowed to steep overnight. The steeped corn (nixtamal) was washed and ground into masa, which was used to make tortillas. Calculations to determine how much of the original fumonisin remained in the finished products took into consideration that FB1 will be converted to hydrolyzed fumonisin B1 (HFB1) by the process of alkaline cooking. All fractions, including steep and wash water, were weighed, and percent moisture and fumonisin content were determined. Tortillas contained approximately 0.50 ppm FB1, plus 0.36 ppm HFB1, which represented 18.5% of the initial FB1 concentration. Three-fourths of the original amount of fumonisin was present in the liquid fractions, primarily as HFB1. Nixtamalization significantly reduced the amount of fumonisin in maize.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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