Mycobiota and mycotoxins in Portuguese pork, goat and sheep dry-cured hams
The objectives of the present work were to survey, for the first time, the contamination of Portuguese fresh and dry-cured meat products with ochratoxin A (OTA) and aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), and to determine the fungi potentially responsible for this contamination. A total of 128 samples including pork fresh legs, dry-cured legs and shoulders, as well as goat and sheep dry-cured legs were analysed. Mycological analysis of these samples yielded a total of 630 fungal isolates. Penicillium sp. was the dominant fungal genus in all products (66% of all isolates). Penicillium nordicum and Aspergillus westerdijkiae were only rarely isolated from pork ham samples. In fresh pork meat, 40% of the samples were contaminated with OTA at levels below 1 μg/kg. In pork dry-cured legs with 20 to 25 months of ripening, 43% of the samples showed detectable contamination, while 18% of the shoulder hams were contaminated. OTA was not detected in any of the goat and sheep samples. OTA contamination does not seem to be a risk in small-piece and short-ripe products like goat and sheep legs, but affects longer ripe products like pork legs and shoulders. Although aflatoxigenic fungi were identified, AFB1 was not detected in any sample, and it should not be considered a risk in dry-cured hams.
KeywordsPenicillium Aspergillus Ochratoxin A Aflatoxins Food safety Meat products
Work was funded by the Portuguese PRODER research Project number 020260013013 “New goat and sheep processed meat products” and BISOVICAP—Processing meat from pigs, sheep and goats, to produce new products. Ham and pâté, Project PROTEC, SI I&DT—Projects in Co-Promotion, no. 21511. The authors received support from the Laboratory of Carcass and Meat Quality of Agriculture School of Polytechnic Institute of Bragança ‘Cantinho do Alfredo’ and from MARCARNE network, funded by CYTED (ref. 116RT0503). The authors also received financial support from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) and FEDER under Programme PT2020 to CIMO (UID/AGR/00690/2019). CEB also received support from FCT under the scope of the strategic funding of UID/BIO/04469/2019 unit, and BioTecNorte operation (NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000004), funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the scope of Norte2020—Programa Operacional Regional do Norte.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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