, Volume 86, Issue 6, pp 1595-1612
Date: 26 Mar 2010

Determination of mycotoxins in foods: current state of analytical methods and limitations

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Mycotoxins are natural contaminants produced by a range of fungal species. Their common occurrence in food and feed poses a threat to the health of humans and animals. This threat is caused either by the direct contamination of agricultural commodities or by a “carry-over” of mycotoxins and their metabolites into animal tissues, milk, and eggs after feeding of contaminated hay or corn. As a consequence of their diverse chemical structures and varying physical properties, mycotoxins exhibit a wide range of biological effects. Individual mycotoxins can be genotoxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic, teratogenic, and oestrogenic. To protect consumer health and to reduce economic losses, surveillance and control of mycotoxins in food and feed has become a major objective for producers, regulatory authorities and researchers worldwide. However, the variety of chemical structures makes it impossible to use one single technique for mycotoxin analysis. Hence, a vast number of analytical methods has been developed and validated. The heterogeneity of food matrices combined with the demand for a fast, simultaneous and accurate determination of multiple mycotoxins creates enormous challenges for routine analysis. The most crucial issues will be discussed in this review. These are (1) the collection of representative samples, (2) the performance of classical and emerging analytical methods based on chromatographic or immunochemical techniques, (3) the validation of official methods for enforcement, and (4) the limitations and future prospects of the current methods.