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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MINIMIZING THE ADVERSE HEALTH AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF MYCOTOXINS AND PLANT TOXINS IN FOODS

Location: Toxicology and Mycotoxin Research

Title: Fumonisin mycotoxin contamination of corn-based foods consumed by potentially pregnant women in Southern California

Authors
item Dvorak, Natalia - USC MED SCH., LOS ANGELES
item Riley, Ronald
item Harris, M - CO STATE UNIV.,FT COLLINS
item Mcgregor, James - USC MED SCH., LOS ANGELES

Submitted to: The Journal of Reproductive Medicine
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 21, 2008
Publication Date: September 1, 2008
Citation: Dvorak, N.J., Riley, R.T., Harris, M., Mcgregor, J.A. 2008. Fumonisin mycotoxin contamination of corn-based foods consumed by potentially pregnant women in Southern California. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. 53:672-676.

Interpretive Summary: Fumonisins are toxic chemicals produced by fungi that commonly occur on corn. The fumonisins that contaminate corn and corn food products have been found to interfere folic acid metabolism in animals. Consumption of fumonisin-contaminated staple foods has been associated with increased risk of neural tube defects (NTDs). We evaluated locally available corn-based foods for fumonisin contamination. A total of 38 corn tortilla and masa flour samples from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Tijuana, Mexico were analyzed for fumonisin contamination. Retail sources were diverse and not limited to Hispanic neighborhoods. Fumonisins were found in all samples. The median fumonisin B1 level was 84 ng/g with a range from 1 ng/g to 729 ng/g (n=38). The median total fumonisin level was 231 ng/g with a range from 2.8 to 1863 ng/g. Levels of fumonisins differed by geographic site. It was concluded that fumonisin contamination of corn-based foods in Southern California is common. At levels of contamination > 1000ng/g, a 60 kg potentially pregnant woman could exceed the WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations by eating 120 g (dry weight) of corn products daily. Fumonisin contamination may constitute a preventable risk for NTDs among susceptible reproductive age women and their progeny.

Technical Abstract: Objective: Fumonisins are Fusarium mold mycotoxins that contaminate corn and corn food products and interfere with animal folic acid metabolism. Consumption of fumonisin-contaminated staple foods is associated with increased risk of neural tube defects (NTDs). We evaluated a sample of locally available corn-based foods for fumonisin contamination. Study Design: We analyzed 38 corn tortilla and masa flour samples from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Tijuana, Mexico for fumonisin contamination. Retail sources were diverse and not limited to Hispanic neighborhoods. Results: Fumonisins were found in all samples. The median fumonisin B1 mycotoxin level was 84 ng/g with a range from 1 ng/g to 729 ng/g (n=38). The median total fumonisin level was 231 ng/g with a range from 2.8 to 1863 ng/g. Levels of fumonisins differed by geographic site. Conclusion: Fumonisin contamination of corn-based foods in Southern California is common. At levels of contamination > 1000ng/g, a 60 kg potentially pregnant woman could exceed the WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations by eating 120 g (dry weight) of corn products daily. Fumonisin contamination may constitute a preventable risk for NTDs among susceptible reproductive age women and their progeny.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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