Aflatoxins are naturally produced fungus. They are very toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic substances that are extremely hazardous to human and animal health.
Aflatoxins can contaminate food commodities already in the field. If the crop is contaminated, these kind of fungus can produce Aflatoxins, that can enter the human and animal bodies by the consumption of these foods, also by the consumption of animal products, from animals that were fed these contaminated foods.
There are a few kinds of Aflatoxins. The major ones are the AFG1 and AFG2 which are the G group and the the AFB1 and AFB2 which are the B group and the strongest ones.
The Aflatoxins G1 and G2 are produced by Aspergillus parasiticus and the Aflatoxins B1 and B2 are produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.
Olive oil comes from the olive fruit and it is proven to have countless medicinal benefits. Research shows that poly-phenols contained in extra virgin olive oil, act like antioxidants, antithrombotics and antihypertensives. Coronary heart disease, colon and prostate cancers are of very low rate in Greece, Italy and Spain, because of the Mediterranean diet, with main source of fat the olive oil. The amount of olive oil consumed in Greece is about 20 Kg per capita.
Olives can be contaminated by molds as Aspergillus parasiticus, after being stored for long periods and in conditions that favor the mold growth.
Inadequate storage conditions result in the contamination of the olive fruit, with a strong possibility to transfer to the olive oil. Table black olives “Greek style” produced in Egypt, found to be toxigenic and are most exposed to mold contamination, said Yassa in 1994.
Leontopoulos in 2003 said that black olives and olive oil produced in Greece, occurrence of AFB1 is limited and not dangerous.
Phenolic compounds in olive oil, like oleuropein, have antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects. Many olive oil authors have investigated these effects of oleuropein and found that it minimizes the production of AFB1 by 95 percent. It is essential that olives should be stored and handled properly to prevent the growth of aflatoxigenic mold and AFB1 production.
The application of strict regulation for the AFB1 in olive oil is necessary to secure the safe AFB1 daily intake.