ABSTRACT: A survey of the fungal contamination and occurrence of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A (OTA) in 50 pistachio nut samples collected from commercial stores around Catalonia (Spain) was carried out. Aspergillus flavus was found in 30% of samples, whereas Aspergillus section Nigri, Aspergillus ochraceus, and Penicillium verrucosum were found in 40%, 2% and 26% of samples, respectively. A total of 204 fungal isolates were obtained; 70.8% of A. flavus isolates were able to produce aflatoxin B1 and B2, whereas OTA production capacity was detected in 54.4% of the A. section Nigri biseriate isolates. Aflatoxins were detected in five samples (10% of total), all exceeding the maximum legal limit set for aflatoxin B1 (2 mgkg_1) or for total aflatoxins (4 mgkg-1), with one sample having a very high level of contamination (1134.5 mgkg-1). Only one sample of pistachio showed OTA contamination at 0.67 mgkg-1. Simultaneous contamination by aflatoxins and OTA was not observed in these samples. It was concluded that the frequency of aflatoxins and OTA contamination in pistachio samples available in the Spanish market is relatively low. Thus, no significant contribution to health risk should be expected from aflatoxin consumption through pistachios among healthy consumers. However, the existence of single samples with an extremely high aflatoxin concentration reinforces the need for effective prevention strategies in pistachio processing and commercialization.
Aflatoxins and ochratoxin A in pistachios sampled in Spain: occurrence and presence of mycotoxigenic fungi, Food Additives and Contaminants: Part B Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2010, 185–192
Applied Mycology Unit, Department of Food Technology, XaRTA-UTPV, University of Lleida, Spain