Occurrence

Ochratoxins are a group of structurally related metabolites that are produced by A. ochraceus and related species, as well as P. viridicatum and certain other Penecillium species. The major mycotoxin in this group is ochratoxin A (OA), which appears to be the only one of major toxicological significance. Chemically, OA contains an isocoumarin moiety linked by a peptide bond to phenylalanine. OA has been detected in many food commodities throughout the world but is found primarily in grains grown in northern temperate areas resulting in contamination of breads and cereal products. In addition to cereals, animal products such as sausage can be significant human dietary sources of OA. Although OA has been found in many foodstuffs in many countries, the highest frequency of OA contamination in foods (~10%) was encountered in Croatia, where Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN) is highly prevalent. Moreover, average concentrations are higher in foods from nephropathic regions. Many countries have set regulatory limits for OA ranging from 1 to 50ppb for food and from 100 to 1000 ppb for animal feeds.

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