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aflatoxin, aflatoxin M1, ochratoxin, fumonisin, ELISA
Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites of fungi and their presence in foods and feed is potential hazardous to the health of both humans and animals. The present study has assessed the presence of aflatoxins, ochratoxins and fumonisins in 183 samples of a variety of foods and beverages (nuts, cereals, milk, cheese, wine and beer) in the Greek market by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Overall, 42.6% of samples had detectable levels of any of the above mycotoxins and 15.3% had levels above the EU legal limit. 48.1% (n=27) of nuts were found to be contaminated with aflatoxin in which 33.3% were above the EU legal limit (4ppb), 25.9% with fumonisin and 29.6% with ochratoxin and in 14.8% of samples co-occurence of all three mycotoxins was observed. 15.9% (n=38) of cereal-based products were detected with aflatoxin and 59.3% (n=64) of milk and cheese samples with Aflatoxin M1 (AFM1), but no sample exceeded the EU legal levels. The levels of AFM1 were found significantly lower in ultra high temperature pasteurized milk (long life milk) than in pasteurized milk. Detection of ochratoxin in vine grapes and non-commercial wines produced in small-scale wineries indicated that 43.5% (n=23) of samples contained ochratoxin above the EU limit (2ppb). Analysis of barley malts, barley seeds and beers revealed that 29% of samples (n=31) were contaminated with ochratoxin at a level above the EU limit (3 ppb). The results confirm the widespread and persistent presence of mycotoxins in various foods and beverages, therefore continuous monitoring and awareness is required to safeguard public health.