Survey of aflatoxins and ochratoxin A contamination in spices by HPLC-based method in Shiraz, Southern of Iran

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Aug;28(30):40992-40999. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-13616-z. Epub 2021 Mar 27.


Among food and agricultural products, spices play important roles in the diets of millions of people worldwide. These products may be colonized by fungi genus and subsequently mycotoxin production. Due to the large demand and supply of spice for cooking, preservative effects, or medicine purpose, it is essential that further investigation is designed to examine mycotoxins in spice. In the present study, the possible contamination of spices by aflatoxins (AFTs) and ochratoxin A (OTA) were analyzed. A total of 80 spice samples (curry, sumac, ginger, and saffron) were purchased and cultured on appropriate medium. Simultaneously mycotoxins from spices were extracted with immunoaffinity columns (IAC), and the occurrence of AFTs (B1 + B2 + G1 + G2) and OTA was then determined using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with a fluorescence detector (FD). The results depicted that 62 (77.5%) and 58 (72.5%) spice samples were contaminated with AFTs and OTA, respectively. Out of the 80 analyzed spices samples, the mean concentration of AFTs and OTA was higher in the curry samples. Among spices that contaminated with mycotoxins, 5 (6.25%) and 2 (10%) of the samples were above the acceptable limit of AFTs (≥ 10 μg/kg) and OTA (≥ 15 μg/kg), respectively. Aspergillus species were the predominant species isolated, followed by Penicillium, and finally Mucor species.Among the examined samples, only few curry samples were contaminated with mycotoxins above acceptable limit. Despite this low level of contamination, this spice is used daily in the cuisine of this region of the world, and consequently, even the small amount of these heat stable toxins for a long time may cause many adverse effects. Hence, it is recommended to monitor the toxicogenous fungi contamination and level of mycotoxins in the spices.

Keywords: Aflatoxins; Aspergillus; High-performance liquid chromatography; Ochratoxin A; Spice; mycotoxin.

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins* / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Ochratoxins
  • Spices / analysis


  • Aflatoxins
  • Ochratoxins
  • ochratoxin A