Saturday, March 26, 2016
What are the limits for mycotoxins in coffee, wine, chocolate, grain, nuts, spices in the US?
Mycotoxins (ochratoxin, zearalenone, aflatoxin, trichothecenes, fumonisins, patulin, among others) can be allergenic, carcinogenic, and mitochondrial poisons - causing multiple chronic diseases including biotoxin illness and chronic fatigue. Fortunately, most people can detoxify mycotoxins without suffering much noticeable consequence. However, there are many that have difficulty with mycotoxin clearance and detoxification.
The United States currently sets no upper limit on mycotoxins in coffee, wine, chocolate, grain, nuts and spices except for a limited few items. In the US, food and milk (cows that eat contaminated grain make milk with aflatoxin) are regulated for aflatoxin, however the restrictions are some of the weakest in the world and are rarely enforced. Corn is regulated for fumonisins. Apple juice is regulated for patulin. And that's it.
It turns out that most countries require imported U.S. food (and drinks) to be tested and meet their tighter regulations before import is possible. Companies producing foreign coffee, wine, chocolate, grain, nuts and spices love the lack of oversight in the United States, as our country can become their dumping ground for the products not suitable for their own country.
Europe has clear limits on mycotoxins. They limit ochratoxin A in dried fruit, coffee, chocolate, wine, grape juice, beer, liqueurs, spices, baby foods, and cereals. Singapore, Brazil, and nearly 100 countries have tighter regulations than the United States. Even China has tighter regulations than the United States on mycotoxins.
Since ochratoxin is a mitochondrial toxin associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, why are we still allowing this in our food? Some groups are putting out coffee (ochratoxin 2 ppb), wine (ochratoxin 5 ppb), and other foods that are third party tested and meet the strictest international standards for mycotoxins, which I certainly support and applaud.
I don't think that it is coincidence that many of the most common food allergies are also the ones most concerning for mycotoxin contamination. Babies can even be exposed to mycotoxins through their mother's breast milk (when she eats foods with mycotoxins). Babies have more difficulty clearing and detoxifying these mycotoxins they get from their mother, which makes them more sensitive.
"Mycotoxin contamination of cereals and related products used for feed can cause intoxication, especially in farm animals. Therefore, efficient analytical tools for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of toxic fungal metabolites in feed are required. Current methods usually include an extraction step, a clean-up step to reduce or eliminate unwanted co-extracted matrix components and a separation step with suitably specific detection ability. Quantitative methods of analysis for most mycotoxins use immunoaffinity clean-up with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separation in combination with UV and/or fluorescence detection. Screening of samples contaminated with mycotoxins is frequently performed by thin layer chromatography (TLC), which yields qualitative or semi-quantitative results. Nowadays, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) are often used for rapid screening. A number of promising methods, such as fluorescence polarization immunoassays, dipsticks, and even newer methods such as biosensors and non-invasive techniques based on infrared spectroscopy, have shown great potential for mycotoxin analysis. Currently, there is a strong trend towards the use of multi-mycotoxin methods for the simultaneous analysis of several of the important Fusarium mycotoxins, which is best achieved by LC-MS/MS (liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry). This review focuses on recent developments in the determination of mycotoxins with a special emphasis on LC-MS/MS and emerging rapid methods."