Mycotoxic Molds

Since the discovery of aflatoxin, numerous other mycotoxins have been detected and identified on agricultural products, in foods, and in nature. Ever since we became aware of the potential risk of mycotoxins, foods with mold growing inside or outside, spontaneously or intentionally, are considered ''suspicious.'' With this in mind, mold-ripened sausages (and hams) have been investigated thoroughly, and the isolated molds were tested for toxin production (35-37). It was possible to isolate mycotoxic molds from mold-fermented meat products, and mycotoxins were also found in products artificially inoculated with pure culture of toxic molds, but in general no mycotoxins were detected in commercially manufactured meat products. In further experiments, the effect of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on toxin production potential were investigated (38,39). In these latter experiments, mixed culture (''house flora'') of apathogenic molds, low temperature (13°C), and low aw-value (0.94) as well as intensive smoking have been shown to be growth inhibitors of mycotoxic molds (8 aflatoxin and 11 sterigmatocystin producers were inoculated). This finding has been supported by investigation of 800 salami samples taken from retail shops: testing analytically as well as biologically for mycotoxins gave proof of the absence of mycotoxins (40). On the basis of these results, ''house mycoflora'' of ripening rooms can be considered harmless if traditional technologies with reliable hurdles are applied during ripening-drying; nevertheless, technologies have been changed in general for application of mold starters.

Summing up, we can conclude that fermented, dried meat products are stable and safe without refrigeration because of low aw-value (<0.90) or because of a combination of low aw and low pH value.

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