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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Cousin, Maribeth
item Riley, Ronald
item Pestka, James

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/8/2005
Publication Date: 9/1/2005
Citation: Cousin, M.A., Riley, R.T., Pestka, J.J. 2005. Foodborne mycotoxins: chemistry, biology, ecology, and toxicology. In: Fratamico, P.M., Bhunia, A.K., editors, Foodborne Pathogens: Microbiology and Molecular Biology. Norfolk, United Kingdom: Horizon Scientific Press, Ltd. p. 164-226.

Interpretive Summary: Book Chapter - IN "Foodborne Pathogens: Microbiology and Molecular Biology".

Technical Abstract: Molds produce mycotoxins, which are secondary metabolites that can cause acute or chronic diseases in humans when ingested from contaminated foods. Although the mechanisms and health effects of most mycotoxins are not completely resolved, potential diseases include cancers and tumors in different target organs (heart, liver, kidney, nerves), gastrointestinal disturbances, alteration of the immune system, and reproductive problems. Species of Aspergillus, Fusarium, Penicillium, and Claviceps grow in agricultural commodities or foods and elaborate the major mycotoxins, namely aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, ochratoxin A, fumonisins, ergot alkaloids, T-2 toxin, and zearalenone and minor mycotoxins such as cyclopiazonic acid and patulin. Mycotoxins occur mainly in cereal grains (barley, maize, rye, wheat), coffee, dairy products, fruits, nuts and spices. Control of mycotoxins in foods has focused on minimizing mycotoxin production in the field, during storage or destruction once produced; however, most control approaches have not been totally successful. Monitoring foods for mycotoxins is important to manage strategies such as regulations and guidelines, which are used by 77 countries, and for developing exposure assessments essential for accurate risk characterization. Chromatographic methods and immunoassays are most commonly used to detect mycotoxins. Research will continue to elucidate different aspects of mycotoxins and their importance to human health.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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