Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Fate of Fumonisin in Maize During Nixtamalization and Tortilla Production by Mayan Communities in Guatemala

Authors
item Riley, Ronald
item Palencia, Edwin - INCAP, GUATEMALA
item Torres, Olga - INCAP, GUATEMALA
item Hagler, Winston - POUL SCI, NCSU, RALEIGH
item Meredith, Filmore
item Williams, Lonnie

Submitted to: Toxicologist
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2003
Publication Date: March 21, 2003
Citation: Riley, R.T., Palencia, E., Torres, O., Hagler, W., Meredith, F.I., Williams, L.D. 2003. FATE OF FUMONISIN IN MAIZE DURING NIXTAMALIZATION AND TORTILLA PRODUCTION BY MAYAN COMMUNITIES IN GUATEMALA. Toxicological Sciences. 77:253.

Interpretive Summary: Abstract only

Technical Abstract: Fumonisin B1 (FB1) is a carcinogenic mycotoxin found in maize. In the preparation of tortillas, maize is boiled in a lime solution, which hydrolyzes at least a portion of the FB1 to the aminopentol backbone (HFB1). The alkali processing of maize (nixtamalization), when conducted in a laboratory or commmercial setting, reduces the total fumonisin content. The purpose of the present study was to 1) determine if the traditional method of nixtamalization as practiced by rural Kaqchikel-speaking Mayan communities in Guatemala reduces the level of fumonisins in tortillas produced from fumonisin-contaminated maize, and 2) determine the steps in the traditional process where reduction in fumonisin levels is most likely to occur. Analysis of cooked tortillas prepared by the Mayan traditional process revealed detectable amounts of FB1, FB2 and FB3 and their hydrolyzed counterparts. There was approximately equal molar amounts of FB1 and HFB1 in the cooked tortillas but the total amount of FB1 plus HFB1 was reduced approximately 60% compared to that originally in the uncooked maize. The total FB1 plus HFB1 in the lime-water used to cook the maize and water washes of the nixtamalized maize accounted for approximately 50% of the total FB1 in the uncooked maize. The amount of HFB1 in lime-water after steeping was much greater than FB1. A total of 11% of the FB1 in the uncooked maize was accounted for in the combined water washes (3). The three fractions (tortillas, lime-water and washes) together accounted for 94% of the FB1 originally in the uncooked maize. These results show that the traditional Mayan method of nixtamalization reduces the total fumonisins in the final product and that the majority of the lost fumonisins are found in the alkali steep water; findings that are similar to that of studies conducted using commercial or non-traditional methods of nixtamalization.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page