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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2004 Apr;39(2):214-28.

Production of toxic metabolites in Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus oryzae, and Trichoderma reesei: justification of mycotoxin testing in food grade enzyme preparations derived from the three fungi.

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  • Genencor International, 925 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA. cblumenthal@genencor.com


Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus oryzae, and Trichoderma reesei are three important production organisms used in industrial fermentations. Several of the fungal secondary metabolites produced by selected strains of these three fungi are capable of eliciting toxicity in animals. Among those toxic substances are the well-known mycotoxins 3-nitropropionic acid and ochratoxin A. However, many others, such as kojic acid, may not be true mycotoxins. The production, extraction, chemical structure, and the toxicity (expressed as LD(50)) of these substances are reviewed. Production of toxic secondary metabolites in A. niger, A. oryzae, and T. reesei is strain-specific and environment-dependent. Considering all of the safety measures taken in the industrial production process, these three fungal species are safe to use. The recently revised JECFA specification for mycotoxins in food enzyme preparations is also discussed. The extent of mycotoxin tests in food enzyme preparations should be judged on a case-by-case basis, through a careful evaluation based on knowledge of taxonomy, biochemistry, and genetics. In many cases, the testing scope at the level of genus should be sufficient. In other cases, the scope can even be further narrowed based on scientific knowledge and assessment.

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