The growing interest in spicy foods leads to the global demand for spices, particularly dried chili. This study aimed to assay both aflatoxin (AFs) and ochratoxin A (OTA) contamination using an integrative method of morphological identification, molecular detection, and chromatography analysis on dried chili provided from traditional and modern markets in Indonesia. The results showed that total fungal infection ranged from 1-408 × 103 CFU/g. Eighty percent of the chili obtained from both the traditional and the modern markets were infected by Aspergillus spp., in which 50% of the infections were identified as A. parasiticus and A. flavus. A complete set of targeted genes involved in AF production and OTA were detected in two isolates of A. flavus and one isolate of A. carbonarius, respectively. The levels of AFs B1, B2, and OTA in the contaminated dried chilies were in the range of 39.3-139.5 µg/kg, 2.6-33.3 µg/kg, and 23.7-84.6 µg/kg, respectively. In contrast, no AFs G1 and G2 were detected. This study showed that the fungal infection of Indonesian dried chili occurs both in the field and during storage; thus, it is suggested to implement good agricultural and handling processes.
Keywords: Indonesia; aflatoxin; dried chili; molecular; mycobiota; ochratoxin A.