Research – Assessment of mycotoxins co‐occurrence in Italian dried figs and in dried figs‐based products

Wiley Online

Abstract

The possible contamination by aflatoxins (AFs), ochratoxin A (OTA), fumonisin B1 (FB1), fusaric acid (FA), and beauvericin (BEA), was investigated in 55 samples of dried figs and dried figs‐based products purchased from the South Italy (Calabria) market. A total of 41 samples showed contamination by at least one of the mycotoxins investigated. Aflatoxin B1 was found in six samples (0.19 — 8.41 μg/kg) total aflatoxins were found in 13 samples (0.5–17.12 μg/kg), OTA was found in 21 samples (<LOQ—158.58 μg/kg), FB1 was found in eight samples (153.81–5,412.96 μg/kg), BEA was found in 12 samples (<LOQ—5,708.49 μg/kg), and FA was found in 28 samples (<LOQ—74,520.20 μg/kg). The analyzed samples were contaminated with one (41.8%), two (7.3%), three (5.5%), four (10.9%), and five (5.5%) mycotoxins. To the best of our knowledge, the incidence of contamination by FA and BEA has been shown for the first time in dried figs.

Practical applications

The present work was focused on mycotoxin mixtures contamination levels of dried figs and dried figs‐based products. It is known that the co‐occurrence of mycotoxins leads to additive or synergistic effects. For some analyzed samples the AFB1, aflatoxins, and ochratoxin A (OTA) levels exceed the European Union countries legal limit. In addition, the simultaneous presence of FB1, FA, and BEA can be a potential threat to the health of consumers. Although different studies examined AFs, OTA, and Fusarium toxins as single mycotoxins in dried figs, to our knowledge, the co‐occurrence of AFs, OTA, FB1, FA, and BEA in dried figs and in dried figs‐based products samples has not been reported previously. Therefore, to prevent mycotoxins contamination, the employment of good practices in all the processing steps is necessary. Furthermore, the quality control of the ingredients used in figs preparations (spices, other dried fruits, cocoa, etc.), usually not adequately, is essential. Finally, it is of importance to establish more stringent rules to ensure food safety, even if no legal limit was still set for Fusarium toxins in dried fruit.

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