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Investigation of the loss of parent fumonisin mycotoxins during food processing
Project Code: C03061
Previous research showed that in certain food processes fumonisins were not detected by conventional analytical methodology. This study aimed to further investigate this apparent loss of fumonisins and assess any potential food safety risk implications for consumers.
The approach in this project was to use model systems to investigate the loss of parent fumonisins (FB1, FB2 and FB3) by simulating the physical and chemical steps in food processes that these compounds undergo.
Simple model systems containing selected food ingredients (sugars, starch, salt, proteins) were set up to facilitate the search for hidden fumonisins. LC/MS/MS was used to detect and quantify the hidden fumonisins.
The effect of single food ingredients such as salt, glucose, fructose and sucrose (and combinations of some of these ingredients), on the levels of parent fumonisins in naturally contaminated maize dough were studied. A decrease of parent fumonisin levels, detected by conventional analysis, was noted. Furthermore, total fumonisins were found to be higher than the parent fumonisins in all cases. Applying heat on the aforementioned models increased the proportion of bound fumonisins to total fumonisins, although the total fumonisins in this case was overall lower.
The effect of food processes focussing on fumonisin levels was also studied for the production of cornflakes, extruded snacks based on maize flour and tortilla chips. In all cases the total fumonisins were found to be higher than the parent fumonisin determined by conventional analysis. However, all levels found were below the EC maximum legal levels.
The result of the model system work was confirmed by a small survey of commercial retail food samples.
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