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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Dombrink Kurtzman, Mary Ann

Submitted to: International Congress of Mycology Proceedings and Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/17/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In countries where a major part of the daily diet is maize, the presence of fumonisins in maize products represents an emerging health concern. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued recommended guidance levels for maize. Although unequivocal harm to humans has not been demonstrated, fumonisins have been shown to cause diseases in horses and pigs and to produce tumors in laboratory rats. Exposure to fumonisins is highest in South Africa and China due to high intake of maize and the potential for environmental conditions favoring mycotoxin production. Fumonisins, mycotoxins produced by Fusarium verticillioides (synonym F. moniliforme) and F. proliferatum, can be present in normal-appearing maize. The alkaline-cooking process, nixtamalization, is used to produce many maize products in Mexico, Central America and the United States. Research had shown that masa and tortillas from Mexico and the United States contained fumonisin B1. To determine the fate of fumonisins during processing, maize naturally contaminated with fumonisins underwent nixtamalization for production of tortillas. Material was analyzed at each step for fumonisins, weights and moisture contents so that mass balance determinations could be calculated. Less than twenty percent of the fumonisins remained in the tortillas. Following nixtamalization, similar reductions occurred in fried tortilla chips produced on a pilot production line in a related study. The major type of fumonisin remaining was hydrolyzed fumonisin B1 in the steep and wash waters. Alkaline cooking and rinsing are critical steps in the process for removing fumonisins. Nixtamalization appears to be a way to reduce significantly fumonisins occurring in maize products.

Last Modified: 07/28/2017
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