Some filamentous fungi are able to grow in food and produce toxic metabolites. It occurs mainly in grains, cereals, oilseeds and some by-products. The growth of fungi in a particular food is governed largely by a series of physical and chemical parameters. The production of toxic metabolites is not confined to a single group of molds irrespective of whether they are grouped according to structure, ecology, or phylogenetic relationships. Mycotoxins can be carcinogenic and cause several harmful effects to both human and animal organisms, in addition to generating large economic losses. The major mycotoxins found in food are the aflatoxins, fumonisins, ochratoxins, patulin, zearalenone, and trichothecenes, generally stable at high temperatures and long storage periods. Considering the difficult prevention and control, international organizations for food safety establish safe levels of these toxins in food destined for both human and animal consumption. Good agricultural practices and control of temperature and moisture during storage are factors which contribute significantly to inhibit the production of mycotoxins. The use of some fungistatic products, such as essential oils and antioxidants, as well as physical, mechanical, chemical, or thermal processing, represents important methods to have the concentration of mycotoxins reduced in food.
Part of the book: Cell Growth