Aflatoxins are secondary metabolites of moulds known to be carcinogenic for humans, and therefore should not be ingested in high doses. This study aimed to determine the level of mould and aflatoxin contamination in dehydrated chili and nutmeg imported from India and Indonesia, respectively, packed in Italy, and commercialized worldwide.
63 samples of chili (22 sanitized through heat treatment, and 41 not heat treated) and 52 samples of nutmeg (22 sanitized through heat treatment, and 30 not heat treated) were tested for aflatoxin, moulds and moisture content.
Heat-treated samples were less contaminated than those not treated. Spices in powder (both chili and nutmeg) were more contaminated than whole ones. In untreated spices, we observed a positive correlation between mould and moisture content. Of the nutmeg and chili powder samples, 72.5% and 50% tested positive for aflatoxin contamination with a range of 0 â 17.2 μg kg-1 and 0 - 10.3 μg kg-1, respectively.
The steam treatment of spices would be useful in reducing the initial amount of moulds. Despite the fact that risk from the consumption of spices contaminated with aflatoxins is minimal, due to the small amount used in food, preventive screening actions of the whole food chain are very important, especially because the most frequently identified toxin was B1 which is the most dangerous of the four toxins (B1, B2, G1, G2).Â
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