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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


CALDAS, Eloisa Dutra; SILVA, Saulo Cardoso  and  OLIVEIRA, João Nascimento. Aflatoxins and ochratoxin A in food and the risks to human health. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2002, vol.36, n.3, pp.319-323. ISSN 1518-8787.

OBJECTIVES: The presence of mycotoxins in food has been associated with several human diseases, and health authorities have taken actions to decrease the ingestion of these compounds in the diet. A study was carried out to assess aflatoxins and ochratoxin A concentrations found in food, and to evaluate the potential risk to human health resulting from mycotoxin exposure. METHODS: Between July 1998 to December 2001, 366 food samples were analyzed, including peanuts and its products, nuts, maize, oat and/or wheat products, rice and beans. Samples were processed and the extracted mycotoxins were detected and separated using thin layer chromatography, and then quantified with fluorescence. RESULTS: Aflatoxins were detected in 19.6% of the samples: raw peanuts and its products, pop corn, maize and Brazilian nuts (>2mg/kg). Peanuts and its products showed the highest levels of aflatoxin contamination (34.7%) with up to 1280 mg/kg of AFB1+AFG1 and 1706 mg/kg of total aflatoxins. Of the positive samples, AFB1 was detected in 98.5%, AFB2 in 93%, AFG1 in 66.7%, and AFG2 in 65.4%. Ochratoxin A was not detected (<25 mg/kg) in any sample analyzed. CONCLUSION: It was found that contamination levels mainly seen in peanuts and its products exceed Brazilian regulated standards, and they can be a potential risk to regular consumers of these products. Food producers' awareness allied to monitoring programs is essential to reduce human exposure to these compounds and prevent ensuing chronic diseases.

Keywords : Aflatoxins; Ochratoxins; Food analyses; Food contamination; Health surveillance; Peanuts; Corn.

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