Presence of mycotoxins, heavy metals and nitrate residues in organic commercial cereal-based foods sold in the Greek market

Abstract

The aim of the present work was to report on the occurrence of contaminants and trace elements in organically grown commercial cereal products, available in the Greek market. Moreover, the level of contamination of domestic organic cereals was compared with that of imported ones. To this end, the level of contamination by heavy metals (Pb, Cd), nitrates, trace elements (Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cr, Ni, Co) and mycotoxins (aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin, and T-2) were reported. Seventy-six organic cereals and derived products of domestic and imported origin were tested including rice, barley, oat, wheat, maize and two samples made of a mixture of grains. The levels of contamination were calculated and compared to the recommended or regulated maximum levels. The maximum levels were exceeded for lead (2), cadmium (1), aflatoxins (4), and ochratoxin (1). Contamination of samples by nitrate was below the allowed level. The level of contamination in domestic organic samples was similar to that of imported ones, except for cadmium with imported samples being more contaminated. The findings of this study are important in terms of risk to human health, but they do not support nor reject the hypothesis that organic cereals are less contaminated than the conventional ones.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the European Social Fund and national resources through the Public Investment Program, Research Project ARCHIMEDES III, subproject ΟΠΣ 383572 “Monitoring mycotoxins and radioactivity level in cereal products of Greece”.

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Correspondence to Adriana Skendi or Maria Papageorgiou.

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Skendi, A., Papageorgiou, M., Irakli, M. et al. Presence of mycotoxins, heavy metals and nitrate residues in organic commercial cereal-based foods sold in the Greek market. J Consum Prot Food Saf 15, 109–119 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00003-019-01231-7

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Keywords

  • Heavy metals
  • HPLC
  • Mycotoxins
  • ICP-OES
  • Organic cereal products