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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Dombrink Kurtzman, Mary Ann

Submitted to: Mexican Association of Microbiology and National Congress Microbiology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The presence of fumonisins in maize products is an emerging health concern in countries where maize is a major component of the daily diet. Fumonisins have been shown to cause diseases in horses and pigs and cancer in laboratory rats, but definite harm to humans has not been demonstrated. Even normal-appearing maize can contain fumonisins, mycotoxins produced by the fungi. This study was undertaken to examine the fate of fumonisins during processing of maize for production of tortillas. Many maize products in Mexico and Central America, as well as in the United States, are made by nixtamalization, a high-temperature, alkaline cooking process. The study represents one of the first analytical studies of fumonisins during all phases of nixtamalization. Normal-appearing maize naturally contaminated with fumonisin B1 at 8.8 ppm was processed, and material at each of the steps was analyzed for fumonisins, including mass balance determinations. As a result of the processing, only 18.5 % of the fumonisin remained in the tortillas. Steep water and wash water contained the majority of the fumonisin (76 %), primarily as hydrolyzed fumonisin B1. In related research by others, similar reductions in fumonisins were observed in fried tortilla chips prepared on a pilot production line. Nixtamalization appears to be a means for significantly reducing the amount of fumonisin in maize.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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