Study of ochratoxin A-producing strains in coffee processing


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Ochratoxin A (OTA) is the main mycotoxin that has been detected in coffee. The occurrence of OTA in coffee beans can be because of environmental conditions and/or processing conditions. Three coffee processes were evaluated (wet, mechanical and dry processes), at different stages from harvesting to storage, and fungi producing OTA were enumerated and identified. The frequency of potential OTA-producing fungi and their ability to produce OTA was also studied. By direct plating, the levels of contamination found in the coffee processes were 80, 72 and 92%, respectively, for parchment and dry cherry coffee and 20, 34 and 15% for green coffee. Aspergillus ochraceus isolated from the three processes accounted for 6.6, 8.3 and 3.3%, and Aspergillus niger for 15, 13 and 25% of the strains isolated, respectively. The toxigenic potential of five A. ochraceus and two A. niger strains was tested in FDA medium and coffee medium using the HPLC technique. There was no difference between the processes studied in terms of isolation and occurrence of ochratoxigenic fungi.