• aflatoxins;
  • Aspergillus flavus;
  • maize;
  • modified nixtamalization

Abstract:  To evaluate the effectiveness of maize detoxification achieved with a modified tortilla-making process (MTMP), maize contaminated with aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and aflatoxin B2 (AFB2) at levels of 22.46, 69.62, and 141.48 ng/g (AFB1+ AFB2) was processed into tortillas. Aflatoxin content was determined according to the 991.31 AOAC official method. Based on the results obtained with spiked samples (0.78 to 25 ng/g), the mean recovery was 92%, with a standard error of 1.2, and a coefficient variation value of 4.4%. The MTMP caused 68, 80, and an 84% decrease in aflatoxin content, respectively. Extract acidification (as occurs during digestion) prior to mycotoxin quantification caused some reformation of the aflatoxin structure in tortillas (up to 3%). According to these results, the MTMP seems to be safe for decontamination since a low percentage of the initial aflatoxin concentration can be reverted to the original fluorescent form upon acidification.

Practical Application:  The potential presence of aflatoxins in maize destined for human consumption is a serious problem to the Mexican food supply, as these toxic compounds may persist during the traditional alkaline-process for tortilla elaboration. Consequently, new detoxification procedures are needed that eliminate or at least minimize the aflatoxin risk, through lowering aflatoxin concentration in maize-based products. Under these considerations, the use of MTMP is recommended, since it has definite advantages including non-production of wastewater and reduced energy/time consumption.