Molds are common substances in nature. Today, it is known that more than 200 types of molds exist and some of them generate mycotoxins in foods under certain conditions. In suitable conditions, if the mold spores in air and earth interact with food, they generate mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxic matters that are generated by molds.
Aflatoxin is a type of mycotoxins which is mainly produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus molds. Aflatoxin is admitted to be one of the most dangerous types of contaminants in food and they cause an important danger in terms of food trustworthiness.
Visible lack of molds in the food does not mean that the food does not contain aflatoxin.
Which Foods Contain Aflatoxin?
Aflatoxins are heat tolerant up to 200-300 C and can not be eliminated during the heating or cooking of the food.
Contamination of aflatoxin can happen during the foods growing in gardens, being harvested, being stored or being prepared for the final product. Aflatoxins exist in nuts like pistachio, peanut, almond, dried fruits like dried fig, grains like wheat, barley, rice, corn and even spices like pepper. Milk (or dairy products of this milk) of the animals which consume food that contains aflatoxins, may also contain aflatoxins. Food which contains aflatoxin can not be purified by any process.
Is It Harmful to Consume Aflatoxin-Containing Food?
Aflatoxin-containing food is bad for health.
When consumed in high amounts, aflatoxin is poisonous. To protect consumers, during importation, exportation and routine controls, samples are taken to labs of the Health Department and be analyzed. Foods containing dangerous amounts of aflatoxin get eliminated.
How to Store Food That Is at Risk of Containing Aflatoxin?
Hot and moist environments are the optimum environments for molds to reproduce. Therefore, foods that is at risk of containing aflatoxin should be stored in appropriate packaging in cold and dry environments. To prevent foods from producing aflatoxin, there needs to be the right and hygienic production and appropriate storage conditions. Lastly, food must be consumed before the expiration date.