The fate of mycotoxins in non-alcoholic lactic acid maize meal fermentation.
Mokoena, Mduduzi Paulus.
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This study was aimed at investigating the potential of lactic acid fermentation in reducing myco toxin concentration in maize meal products. Maize meal was spiked separately with aflatoxin Bi, fumonism Bi, and zearalenone, and fermented for four days. During this period the concentration of each toxin and the pH of the fermented maize meal were monitored. There was a significant (p= 0.000) decrease in the concentration of all the mycotoxins, with a percentage reduction of 55-69 by the third day and 68-75 by the fourth day, respectively. Commercial amahewu samples were also screened for the presence of these three mycotoxins, and the results indicated that the samples were not contaminated with detectable levels of these toxins. An attempt was made to characterise the metabolic derivatives (by-products) of each mycotoxin following lactic acid maize meal fermentation. To achieve this maize meal samples were separately spiked with each of mycotoxin, fermented for four days and screened for specific mycotoxin derivatives (by-products) using GC/MS, HPLC and relevant standards (i.e. partially hydrolysed fumonisin Bi, aflatoxin B2a, a- and Pzearalenol). None of the targeted derivatives could be detected in the fermented maize meal samples. The potential cytotoxicity of the mycotoxin-spiked fermented samples was investigated using an SNO cell line. The fermented toxin-spiked maize meal samples with a starter culture were comparatively less toxic (29 - 36%) to SNO oesophageal cells than samples spiked with toxin without a starter culture (24 - 30%). However, this observed difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.295 - 0.681). Furthermore, cells that were only inoculated with the cell culture medium had significantly (p = 0.000) high percentage cell viability. This study indicates that it is possible to significantly reduce the concentration of mycotoxins using lactic acid maize fermentation to trace levels. However, such a reduction will not significantly alter the possible chronic toxic effects of such toxins in the diet, particularly a maize based diet containing poor quality protein. The trace amounts of these toxins in fermented and unfermented maize meal should continue to be a cause for concern.