Fumonisins during industrial processing of cornmeal

0008197105F-849x565Fumonisins are a group of toxic secondary metabolites mainly produced by Fusarium verticilloides and Fusarium proliferatum, that can occur in corn and corn-based products. Their presence and subsequent consumption has been associated with a number of acute and chronic human diseases and some of them have been classified as a 2B carcinogenic by the International Agency of Research on Cancer. Therefore, the joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has determined a maximum tolerable daily intake (PMTDI) of 2 µg/kg body weight per day for FB1, FB2 and FB3 alone or in combination.

Besides their presence in raw corn, the industrial processing of cornmeal may affects the distribution of fumonisins in various corn derivatives (corn, corn flour, germ, middlings, broken corn, cornflake and cornmeal flour). Therefore, in our recent study, free and masked fumonisins have been determined on various products (unprocessed and cleaned corn, uncooked and cooked broken corn, cornflake and cornmeal semolina) collected from a cornmeal industrial production plant, as well as on byproducts (“fumetto” flour, germ and middlings) with the aim to estimate and establish the distribution of the fumonisin contamination from raw materials to cornmeal semolina.

Results showed that fumonisin amounts decreased significantly after cleaning and corn-flaking processes, achieving a final reduction of about 40% in the cornmeal semolina, while higher level of contamination in corn flour (fumetto) and middlings were detected. Furthermore, in order to better understand the influence of the different treatments on fumonisin distribution, the occurrence of their free and masked forms during this industrial processing was investigated. Results for masked fumonisins showed that they were not detected probably due to different climatic and technological factors.

The full results are available in the latest issue of Food Control.

Generotti, S., Cirlini, M., Dall’Asta, C., & Suman, M. (2014). Influence of the industrial process from caryopsis to cornmeal semolina on levels of fumonisins and their masked forms. Food Control.

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