Mycotoxins in botanicals and dried fruits: a review

Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2008 Feb;25(2):181-92. doi: 10.1080/02652030701567459.


Botanicals are used in many countries for medicinal and general health-promoting purposes. Numerous natural occurrences of mycotoxins in botanicals and dried fruits have been reported. Aflatoxins or ochratoxin A (OTA) have been found in botanicals such as ginseng, ginger, liquorice, turmeric, and kava-kava in the USA, Spain, Argentina, India, and some other countries, while fumonisins have been found in medicinal wild plants in South Africa and in herbal tea and medicinal plants in Turkey. Zearalenone was identified in ginseng root. Dried fruits can be contaminated with aflatoxins, OTA, kojic acid, and, occasionally, with patulin or zearalenone. One main area of concern is aflatoxins in dried figs; bright greenish yellow fluorescence under ultraviolet light is associated with aflatoxin contamination. OTA in dried vine fruits (raisins, sultanas, and currants) is another concern. There are also reports of aflatoxins in raisins and OTA in dried figs, apricots, dried plums (prunes), dates, and quince. Maximum permitted levels in the European Union include 4 microg kg(-1) for total aflatoxins in dried fruit intended for direct consumption and 10 microg kg(-1) for OTA in dried vine fruit. This review discusses the occurrence of mycotoxins in botanicals and dried fruits and analytical issues such as sampling, sample preparation, and methods for analysis. Fungal contamination of these products, the influence of sorting, storage, and processing, and prevention are also considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Beverages / microbiology
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Preservation
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Fruit / microbiology
  • Mycotoxins / analysis*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Plants, Medicinal / microbiology


  • Mycotoxins