Evaluation and detoxification of aflatoxins in ground and tree nuts using food grade organic acids

Farhat Jubeen, Farooq Sher, Abu Hazafa, Fatima Zafar, Mariam Ameen, Tahir Rasheed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The contamination of foodstuffs especially nuts with aflatoxins (AFs) affected by some of the fungal genera species that are a major threat to the economy, safe food supply, and serious health concerns to any country in recent days. Recently different techniques including heat, ozone, and microbes are used for the decontamination of aflatoxin but these all are limited to achieve the desirable results. The present study objectives to decontaminate the AFs in nuts by using three food-grade organic acids. In the present study, aqueous solutions of three food-grade organic acids namely citric, lactic and propionic acid are used at five different concentrations (1, 3, 5, 7 and 9%) to detoxify aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and total aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, and G2; TAFs) in selected nuts including almond, peanut, pistachio, and walnut at two different moisture levels (10 ± 3 and 16 ± 3%). The high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with fluorescence detection method was applied for the qualitative and quantitative determination of AFs. The results showed that the decontamination of AFB1 and total AFs significantly increased in infected nuts by increasing the concentration of acids. The experimental results of a 15 min treatment of walnut (10 ± 3 and 16 ± 3% moisture level), pistachio (10 ± 3% moisture content) and peanuts (10 ± 3% moisture content) with citric, lactic and propionic acids at 9% concentration significantly reduced of about 99.00, 99.90 and 96.07% of AFs respectively. Furthermore, treatment with citric and lactic acids resulted in the conversion of AFB1 into less toxic products identified as AFD1 via hydrolysis of the lactone ring. Citric acid was found as the most efficient acid in degrading the total AFs among all the three organic acids. The present study showed better AFs detoxification results than conventional methods. Hence, it is concluded that citric, lactic, and propionic acids can be applied as a useful and safe decontamination method of AFB1 and total AFs in aflatoxin-affected nuts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalBiocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology
Early online date13 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Aug 2020


  • Detoxification
  • Decontamination
  • Total aflatoxins
  • Aflatoxin B1
  • Nuts
  • Citric acid

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