'Masked' mold toxins in food should be included in safety regulations

Feb 13, 2013

Government limits on mold toxins present naturally in grain crops should be expanded to include so-called "masked mycotoxins" that change from harmless to potentially harmful forms in the body, a new study concludes. It appears in ACS' journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Chiara Dall'Asta and colleagues explain that molds growing naturally on wheat, corn and other plants produce toxic substances termed mycotoxins. Some health experts regard mycotoxins as the most serious chronic dietary risk factor, greater than the potential health threats from pesticides and . Government regulations thus limit levels of mycotoxins that are permissible in food and animal feed. Plants protect themselves by binding or "conjugating" glucose, sulfur or other substances to the mycotoxin, producing conjugated mycotoxins that are not harmful.

Dall'Asta explains that these "masked mycotoxins" are not included in current safety regulations because of uncertainty about what happens when people and animals eat them. The new study focused on two of the most widespread contaminants of —deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN). The authors say their results show, for the first time, that bacteria present in the large intestine in people deconjugate or "unmask" DON and ZEN, releasing the original toxic forms. "For this reason, masked mycotoxins should be considered when evaluating population exposure," the study concludes.

Explore further: Researchers create designer 'barrel' proteins

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Infant foods should be screened for mycotoxins

Nov 10, 2010

An international team of scientists calls for protecting complementary food for infants in developing countries – especially those where corn is a staple food – against fumonisin, a toxin produced by fungi. Until ...

Climate change affecting food safety

Feb 21, 2011

Climate change is already having an effect on the safety of the world's food supplies and unless action is taken it's only going to get worse, a Michigan State University professor told a symposium at this year's meeting ...

Recommended for you

Amino acids key to new gold leaching process

Oct 24, 2014

Curtin University scientists have developed a gold and copper extraction process using an amino acid–hydrogen peroxide system, which could provide an environmentally friendly and cheaper alternative to ...

Researchers create designer 'barrel' proteins

Oct 23, 2014

Proteins are long linear molecules that fold up to form well-defined 3D shapes. These 3D molecular architectures are essential for biological functions such as the elasticity of skin, the digestion of food, ...

User comments : 0