growth of fungi may result in several kinds of food spoilage: off-flavours,
toxins, discolouration, rotting, and formation of pathogenic or allergenic
propagules. Over the past 40 years fungi in foods have received special
atten-tion because of their ability to produce toxic metabolites. Although some
fungi, such as Claviceps purpurea have been known for centuries because of their
high and acute toxicity (it was only after the discovery in 1960 of the
aflatoxins, carcinogenic metabolites of Aspergillus flavus, that a large number
of species were found as mycotoxin producers.More than
400 mycotoxins are known today, aflatoxins being the best known, and the number
is increasing rapidly. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites which are toxic to
vertebrate animals when introduced via a natural route. The toxicity of these metabolites
is very different, with chronic termed toxicosis being the most important to humans.
However, only a few mycotoxins are well described in toxicological terms. The most
important toxic effects are different kinds of cancers and immune suppression. Several
mycotoxins have a very significant antibiotic activity as well, which in time may
give rise to bacteria with a cross-resistance to the most important antibiotics
used today, like penicillins.
of potential toxinogenic species on food products does not always mean that these
products contain mycotoxins; various environmental factors also play a part. Furthermore,
the toxicity of many frequently occurring moulds has not yet been fully investigated
and there is often no chemical method available to demonstrate the mycotoxin that
may be present.
CBS has experience and expertise in handling mycological problems of food and beverages
and can carry out research and surveys.
The institute also has published books and provide
courses on indoor fungi.