Introduction and objective:
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of filamentous fungi. Occurring in food, they pose a threat to the health of consumers, being highly toxic substances. The effects associated with acute poisoning or chronic moderate exposure to fungal toxins are mainly based on cytotoxic, carcinogenic and inducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the organism. The aim of the review was to summarize the available information on the occurrence of ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol and T-2 and HT-2 toxins in food and the effects on the human body.

State of knowledge:
Ochratoxin A is a common toxin recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as potentially carcinogenic. The food groups most exposed to contamination are cereal products, grapes, coffee and cocoa. Deoxynivalenol, produced by soil fungi of the genus Fusarium, is mainly found in grain products – wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice. Its excessive exposure is associated with gastrointestinal symptoms, including severe vomiting and diarrhea. Exposure to mycotoxins occurring in food can be reduced by maintaining optimamum conditions for storing raw materials, sterile production line, disinfecting feed and food, and reducing bioavailability, thanks to the use of absorbents. Additionally, as demonstrated with T-2 and HT-2 toxins, the effects of mycotoxin exposure can be counteracted by increasing antioxidant intake.

Food contamination with mycotoxins is a serious problem in food processing. It seems appropriate to set standards for acceptable levels of mycotoxins for a wider group of food products.

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