Reduction of Aflatoxins in Apricot Kernels by Electronic and Manual Color Sorting

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Zivoli, Rosanna ; Gambacorta, Lucia ; Piemontese, Luca ; Solfrizzo, Michele (2016)
  • Publisher: MDPI
  • Journal: Toxins, volume 8, issue 1 (issn: 2072-6651, eissn: 2072-6651)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3390/toxins8010026, pmc: PMC4728548
  • Subject: R | sorting | apricot kernels | processing | Medicine | aflatoxin | occurrence | almonds | Article

The efficacy of color sorting on reducing aflatoxin levels in shelled apricot kernels was assessed. Naturally-contaminated kernels were submitted to an electronic optical sorter or blanched, peeled, and manually sorted to visually identify and sort discolored kernels (dark and spotted) from healthy ones. The samples obtained from the two sorting approaches were ground, homogenized, and analysed by HPLC-FLD for their aflatoxin content. A mass balance approach was used to measure the distribution of aflatoxins in the collected fractions. Aflatoxin B1 and B2 were identified and quantitated in all collected fractions at levels ranging from 1.7 to 22,451.5 µg/kg of AFB1 + AFB2, whereas AFG1 and AFG2 were not detected. Excellent results were obtained by manual sorting of peeled kernels since the removal of discolored kernels (2.6%–19.9% of total peeled kernels) removed 97.3%–99.5% of total aflatoxins. The combination of peeling and visual/manual separation of discolored kernels is a feasible strategy to remove 97%–99% of aflatoxins accumulated in naturally-contaminated samples. Electronic optical sorter gave highly variable results since the amount of AFB1 + AFB2 measured in rejected fractions (15%–18% of total kernels) ranged from 13% to 59% of total aflatoxins. An improved immunoaffinity-based HPLC-FLD method having low limits of detection for the four aflatoxins (0.01–0.05 µg/kg) was developed and used to monitor the occurrence of aflatoxins in 47 commercial products containing apricot kernels and/or almonds commercialized in Italy. Low aflatoxin levels were found in 38% of the tested samples and ranged from 0.06 to 1.50 μg/kg for AFB1 and from 0.06 to 1.79 μg/kg for total aflatoxins.
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