Category Archives: mold

Are there mold toxins in your oatmeal?

main-jpgIt’s been a cold few months throughout the United States. When our days start with freezing temperatures and we’re experiencing almost weekly snowfalls, FoodFacts.com knows that many of us are turning to a nice bowl of hot oatmeal to warm us up before we go out into the elements. And why not? It’s a very healthy choice. But there may be something impeding the health benefits of our favorite winter breakfast.

Oats are an excellent source of manganese, copper, biotin, vitamin B1, magnesium, dietary fiber, chromium, zinc, and protein. Oats are known for their antioxidant compounds help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ochratoxin A (OTA) has been found in all major cereal grains including oat, wheat, and barley worldwide and considered as a potential concern in food safety.

Dojin Ryu and Hyun Jung Lee, School of Food Science, University of Idaho, note that OTA is one of the most common toxic products released by molds in the world.

OTA has been found in a very wide range of raw and processed food commodities. It was first reported in cereals, but has since been found in other products, including coffee, dried fruits, wine, beer, cocoa, nuts, beans, peas, bread and rice. It has also been detected in meat, especially pork and poultry, following transfer from contaminated feed.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified OTA as a possible human carcinogen (group 2B). OTA is a potent toxic agent and causes both acute and chronic effects in the kidneys of all mammalian species tested. The sensitivity of different species varies, but a level of 200 μg/kg in feed over three months is sufficient to cause acute damage to the kidneys of pigs and rats.

The USA does not regulate the contaminant; the European Union has set maximum limits for OTA in food. Ryu and Lee wanted to see how US breakfast cereals; a staple in many Americans’ diets, measured up to that standard.

The researchers collected a total of 489 samples of corn, rice, wheat, and oat-based breakfast cereal from US retail marketplaces over a two year period. Researchers used a high-performance liquid chromatography ( a technique used to separate the components in a mixture, to identify each component, and to quantify each component) to determine the levels of OTA.

Overall, 205 samples 42 percent were contaminated with OTA in the range from 0.10 to 9.30 ng/g. The levels OTA were mostly below of the European Commission Regulation (3 ng/g) except in 16 samples of oat-based cereals.

The highest level of OTA was highest in oat-based breakfast cereals (70 percent, 142/203), followed by wheat-based (32 percent, 38/117), corn-based (15 percent, 15/103), and rice-based breakfast cereals (15 percent, 10/66).

“On the basis of the incidence and concentration of OTA, oats and oat-based products may need greater attention in further surveillance programs and development of intervention strategies to reduce health risks in consumers,” the researchers wrote.

The authors acknowledge funding from the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Lakshmi Gompa was a graduate student working in the laboratory of Dr. Andreia Bianchin, University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2013. In a study that year, she examined OTA in commodities such as, roasted coffee, cocoa and meat in the US Market.

Among different samples analyzed 35 percent of cocoa samples and three percent of meat samples were contaminated with OTA. Decaffeinated coffee samples showed the highest level at 16.7 percent. OTA levels in dried raisins and dates had high levels at 100 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

We’ll stay on top of this one. This new problem with our food supply does seem to be affecting many different products that we normally include in our diets, with oats and oat-based products being the newest to be affected. Oatmeal is a healthy, hot breakfast, but there are other grain choices we can turn to. While we’re waiting on more information, we can look for spelt, kamut and wheat based hot cereals. There are organic brands featuring other grains that will keep us just as warm and ready for the cold.

http://www.allvoices.com/article/100003574

Moldy Chobani yogurt more harmful than previously assumed

iStock_000026032451SmallLast September there was a nationwide recall of Chobani Greek yogurt due to what the company called a harmless problem with some fungus.

Ten months later, that recall has been linked to more than 400 illnesses and microbiologists say the fungus responsible for the outbreak isn’t as harmless as company officials indicated.

Experts with Duke University tested yogurt affected by the September 2013 recall taken from the refrigerator of a Texas couple who said they both became ill after eating it.

The scientists found that the sample contained Mucor circinelloides, the fungus detected at the Twin Falls, Idaho, plant where the yogurt was made. But additional testing revealed that it was a subspecies of the bug that is commonly associated with human infections.

“The potential risk would be higher than we might have thought,” said Soo Chan Lee, a senior research associate with the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. The study is published in the journal mBio.

That contradicts the position of experts cited by Chobani who said the mold is “not considered a disease-causing microorganism,” and might pose risk only to people with compromised immune systems.

But Dr. Alejandro Mazzotta, Chobani’s vice president of global quality, food safety and regulatory affairs, disputed the study findings.

“To our knowledge, there is no evidence, including the assertions presented in this publication, that the strain in the recalled products causes illness in consumers when ingested,” he said in a statement. Chobani officials say they’ve made significant investments in technology and personnel to improve food safety procedures.

At least 403 reports of illness tied to the recall were reported in the past year, Food and Drug Administration officials said Monday. Reports aren’t confirmed cases, the FDA noted.

Chobani has taken steps to eradicate the mold at the plant, FDA officials said.

FoodFacts.com wants everyone in our community to understand that, despite claims by any company, recalls are serious business. While Chobani is claiming that the mold that caused the recall of their yogurt really couldn’t harm anyone, other sources disagree pretty strongly. It’s important for us all to keep up with food recalls and to make sure we rid our refrigerators and pantries of items that appear on lists of recalled products. While it may not be something we think of often, it really should be. We can avoid unnecessary — and sometimes serious — illness by following recall news. And remember, this is a service you can access easily via the FoodFacts.com website right here: http://www.foodfacts.com/food-recalls/ Develop a valuable habit and check it out as often as you can!

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/moldy-chobani-yogurt-posed-health-threat-tests-find-n150116

Entenmann’s donuts recalled over smell and mold!

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Foodfacts.com has learned that Six kinds of mini-donuts have been recalled by Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc., because “they may develop an uncharacteristic smell and become moldy,” the company says. Three kinds of Entenmann’s Pop ‘Ems were pulled in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah:

- Powdered Pop ‘Ems, 10-ounce package, UPC Code 72030-01570
- Cinnamon Pop ‘Ems, 10-ounce package, UPC Code 72030-01985
- Rich Frosted Pop ‘Ems, 10.5-ounce package, UPC Code 72030-01571

And three kinds of Bimbo’s Donitas mini-donuts were recalled in California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming:
- Sugared Donitas, 8 count, 3.6-ounce package, UPC Code 74323-07039
- Powdered Donitas, 8 count, 4.0-ounce package, UPC Code 74323-04976
- Chocolate Frosted Donitas, 8 count, 4.3-ounce package, UPC Code 74323-09964

The Entenmann’s products come in blue and white bags with dates between May 11 and June 6 printed in a circle on the upper right portion of the package. The Donitas come in cellophane wrappers, with the same dates in the same locations on the packaging. Although serious health problems are unlikely from consuming the products, the company initiated the recall after receiving complaints from customers about an unpleasant odor and “temporary illness.”
If you’ve bought one of the products, take it back to the store for a full refund.