Scientists develop lactic acid as mycotoxin fighters

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Lactic acid bacteria Wheat Cereal Eu

Common grade lactic acid bacteria (LAB) from grain, malting,
brewing and cereal processing could be a cheap and natural means of
reducing deadly mycotoxins in grains, according to scientists in

The project has the potential to provide industry with an eco-friendly means of fulfilling the EU's new legislative requirements for the reduction of mycotoxin content in cereal-based products.

The levels of chemical preservatives permitted in bakery products in Europe have recently been reduced, according to Biotechnology Ireland, a research network reporting on government and EU research in the sector.

"Hence the industry will need alternative methods to prevent mould growth and extend shelf life of their products to remain competitive,"​ the network stated in reporting on the research. "This technology offers a natural way to improve the quality, safety and shelf life of cereal-based products."

Mycotoxins are produced by the Fusarium fungi, a serious problem in the cereal food and feed chain. Mycotoxins cause serious illness and immunosuppression in humans and animals as well as resulting in losses for grain producers and food processors.

The loss due to even a mild attack of Fusarium can be as high as 25 per cent, in addition to the contamination of the crop with mycotoxins, according to Biotechnology Ireland. Mycotoxins can form at any time during the supply chain.

Scientists at the University College Cork have so far screened over 50,000 food grade lactic acid bacteria (LAB) for antimicrobial activity, studying their ability to reduce or prevent Fusarium attack.

The are testing the LAB with the anti-fungal activity to improve the safety, quality and processability of cereal products such as malt, beer and bread.

The use of LAB is a nature-friendly means of decontamination of grains. LAB decontamination is also easy of use and lowers costs, the scientists stated.

"LAB should not lead to the formation of compounds that are toxic or alter the nutritional and palatability properties of the grain or grain product,"​ they stated. "In addition, processability of the cereal and quality of the final product can be improved."

Expressions of interest are invited from companies involved in starter culture production, or the brewing, malting or bakery industries.

In December Italian authorities confiscated 58,000 tonnes of Canadian durum wheat destined for pasta production at the port of Bari. Police also arrested Francesco Casillo, the head of Molino Casillo, one of Europe's largest millers.

The arrest followed the discovery that wheat imported from Canada had three times the allowable limit of ocratoxin, a carcinogenic mycotoxin.

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