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Aflatoxin contamination and mold proliferation in three hot pepper hybrids (Sky Red, Maha, and Wonder King) were studied during 5 months of storage at three temperatures (20, 25, and 30°C) and under different packaging conditions (low-density polyethylene bags and jute bags). The
presence of aflatoxins in hot pepper samples was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography with a UV-Vis detector. Sampling for analysis of aflatoxins, total mold counts, and Aspergillus counts was carried out at 0, 50, 100, and 150 days of storage. Hot peppers packed in
jute bags were more susceptible to aflatoxin contamination than those packed in polyethylene bags; aflatoxin concentrations were 75% higher in peppers stored in jute bags. The effect of storage temperature resulted in aflatoxin concentrations that were 61% higher in hot peppers stored at 25
and 30°C than in those stored at 20°C. Of the three pepper hybrids, Wonder King was more susceptible to aflatoxin contamination, with a maximum of 1.50 μg/kg when packed in jute bags and stored at 25°C for 150 days. However, no sample exceeded the maximum permitted level for
total aflatoxins in spices established by European Union regulations (10 μg/kg). Total mold counts and Aspergillus counts increased with storage duration, but all counts were significantly lower in peppers stored in polyethylene bags. A gradual increase in temperature during prolonged
storage of hot peppers in combination with aeration may be the main reasons for increases in fungal biomass and Aspergillus proliferation with the subsequent aflatoxin production.
Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan 2:
Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology, Faisalabad-38000, Pakistan 3:
Veterinary Faculty, University of Zaragoza, 50013 Zaragoza, Spain
Publication date: May 1, 2011
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