Some Commercial Coffees Found to Contain High Mycotoxin Levels

A study carried out at the University of Valencia in Spain has confirmed the presence of mycotoxins in samples of coffee on retail sale in supermarkets around the city. Five samples contained ochratoxin A at concentrations in excess of maximum permitted levels.

The researchers used a technique called liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to analyse 103 commercial coffee samples for the presence of 18 different mycotoxins, including fumonisin, aflatoxins, ochratoxin A and trichothecenes.

The results revealed that various mycotoxins were present in concentrations from 0.10 to 3.570 µg/kg. The health significance of this is uncertain, but the study’s authors say that their results are not alarming. However, the five samples containing high levels of ochratoxin A – the only mycotoxin regulated in coffee in the EU – recorded concentrations from 6.20 to 32.40 µg/kg. The maximum permitted levels are 5 µg/kg for roasted coffee beans and 10 µg/kg for soluble or instant coffee.

Study author Emilia Ferrer commented, “A lack of legislation on coffee regarding the rest of the mycotoxins that have been detected, their toxic effects and the concentration values obtained are making it necessary that we pay special attention to these contaminants which are present in a product that is consumed this much.”

The study is published in the journal Food Control and an abstract can be found here.