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Safety Regulations Should Include ‘Masked’ Mold Toxins In Food

Government limits on mold toxins present naturally in should be expanded to include so-called “masked ” that change from harmless to potentially harmful forms in the body, a new study concludes. It appears in ACS’ journal .

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 insecticides. 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 , 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 mycotoxin contaminants of grain crops – deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (). The authors say their results show, for the first time, that bacteria present in the large intestine in people deconjugate or “unmask” DON and , releasing the original toxic forms. “For this reason, masked mycotoxins should be considered when evaluating population exposure,” the study concludes.


The authors acknowledge funding from the Basic Research Investment Fund (FIRB), the Italian Ministry of University and Research and the AGER Project “From Seed to Pasta.”
American Chemical Society