Making mycotoxin analysis environmentally friendlier

  • 24th April 2017
  • by secretary

5 April 2017. The JRC—Joint Research Centre, in its role as European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Mycotoxins developed a quick method of analysis for multiple mycotoxins. This work aims to facilitate compliance testing in the EU Member States and to support the EU National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) on mycotoxins.

A method is presented which aims at making mycotoxin analysis environmentally friendlierthrough replacing acetonitrile by ethyl acetate and reducing chemical waste production by analyzing four mycotoxins together, forgoing sample extract clean-up, and minimizing solvent consumption.

It is the role of the EURL for Mycotoxins to develop and validate state-of-the-art and fit-for-the-purpose analytical approaches for official food control. Therefore, the JRC developed a “greener” and quick method of analysis for four mycotoxins (DON, HT-2, T-2 and ZON) in cereals. The fitness-for-purpose was proven through a successful collaborative study. This method of analysis became recently a European Standard (European Committee for Standardization, CEN EN 16877).

The comprehensiveness and flexibility of the developed extraction approach was also used for a very quick screening and semi-quantitative flow-injection mass spectrometry assay for aflatoxin B1 in whole-kernel maize.

Michigan State University researchers have shown that sunflower 
seeds are frequently contaminated with a toxin produced 
by molds and pose an increased health risk in many l
ow-income countries worldwide.

Credit: Courtesy of MSUcaption

Read more in: A. Breidbach “A greener, quick and comprehensive extraction approach for LC-MS of multiple mycotoxins“, Toxins 91 (2017) 1-14, doi:10.3390/toxins9030091, 14 pages.

18 April 2017. Sunflower Seeds Identified as Source of Potent Liver Carcinogen

Michigan State University researchers have shown that sunflower seeds are frequently contaminated with a toxin produced by molds and pose an increased health risk in many low-income countries worldwide.

Smallholder farmers in Tanzania grow sunflowers for the seeds, which are sold to local millers who press the seeds for oil and sell it to local consumers for cooking. The remaining cakes are used as animal feed.

Aflatoxin in animal feedstuffs has been a growing concern in the dairy industry due to the prevalence of aflatoxin M1 (hydroxylated form of AFB1) in dairy products from animals consuming AFB1-contaminated feed. Researchers in Kenya found 72% of 439 cow-milk samples they collected from urban Kenya contaminated with aflatoxin M1. Researchers in Tanzania also found aflatoxin M1 contamination in fresh cow milk retailed in Dar es Salaam and in Singida. Although aflatoxin M1 is less carcinogenic than aflatoxin B1, it also has demonstrated toxicological effects, and infants weaned on contaminated milk may be at high risk of exposure to aflatoxin M1 and its associated carcinogenic actions.

In the current issue of PLoS ONE, the team of scientists documented frequent occurrence of aflatoxin (a toxin produced by Aspergillus molds that commonly infect corn, peanuts, pistachios and almonds) in sunflower seeds and their products. This is one of the first studies to associate aflatoxin contamination with sunflower seeds.

The study was conducted in Tanzania, but the problem is by no means isolated there. Chronic exposure to aflatoxin causes an estimated 25,000-155,000 deaths worldwide each year, from corn and peanuts alone. Since it is one of the most potent liver carcinogens known, the research to detect and limit its presence in sunflower seeds and their products could help save lives and reduce liver disease in areas where sunflowers and their byproducts are consumed, said Gale Strasburg, MSU food science and human nutrition professor and one of the study’s co-authors.

“These high aflatoxin levels, in a commodity frequently consumed by the Tanzanian population, indicate that local authorities must implement interventions to prevent and control aflatoxin contamination along the sunflower commodity value chain, to enhance food and feed safety in Tanzania,” he said. “Follow-up research is needed to determine intake rates of sunflower seed products in humans and animals, to inform exposure assessments and to better understand the role of sunflower seeds and cakes as a dietary aflatoxin source.”

Read more in: Mmongoyo, J. A., Wu, F., Linz, J. E., Nair, M. G., Mugula, J. K., Tempelman, R. J., & Strasburg, G. M. (2017). Aflatoxin levels in sunflower seeds and cakes collected from micro- and small-scale sunflower oil processors in Tanzania. Plos One, 12(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0175801