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Food Chem Toxicol. 1995 May;33(5):341-55.

The occurrence of ochratoxin A in coffee.

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Institute of Toxicology, Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Schwerzenbach, Switzerland.


Ochratoxin A (OA) is a nephrotoxic and nephrocarcinogenic mycotoxin which is predominantly produced by the two ubiquitous fungal genera, Aspergillus and Penicillium. OA is found in foodstuffs, predominantly in cereals but also in coffee beans. Inconsistent results have been published regarding the influence of roasting on the OA content in roasted beans and the transfer into the coffee brew. In the present study an HPLC method was used for the detection of OA in green and roasted coffee beans as well as in the coffee brew. For qualitative confirmation and quantification of low OA levels in roasted coffee beans and coffee brew an additional clean-up step by immunoaffinity column was applied before HPLC analysis. In green coffee beans OA was detected in 13 out of 25 commercial samples analysed (detection limit, 0.5 micrograms OA/kg). Roasting (250 degrees C, 150 sec) of naturally contaminated green beans or beans inoculated with A. ochraceus resulted only in a small reduction in the OA level. OA was also found to be eluted into the brew. Of 40 coffee brews prepared from commercially available samples OA was detected in 18 brews by HPLC and/or additional immunoaffinity column clean-up in the range of 0.4 to 7.8 micrograms OA/kg equivalent ground coffee. Our preliminary results suggest, therefore, that regular coffee consumption may contribute to exposure of humans to OA.

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