Knowledge for policy
Publication 26 August 2019

Mycotoxin Decontamination Efficacy of Atmospheric Pressure Air Plasma

Mycotoxins, the toxic secondary metabolites of mould species, are a growing global concern, rendering almost 25% of all food produced unfit for human or animal consumption, thus placing immense pressure on the food supply chain. Cold Atmospheric pressure Plasma (CAP) represents a promising, low-cost, and environmentally friendly means to degrade mycotoxins with negligible effect on the quality of food products. Despite this promise, the study of CAP-mediated mycotoxin degradation has been limited to a small subset of the vast number of mycotoxins that plague the food supply chain. This study explores the degradation of aflatoxins, trichothecenes, fumonisins, and zearalenone using CAP generated in ambient air. CAP treatment was found to reduce aflatoxins by 93%, trichothecenes by 90%, fumonisins by 93%, and zearalenone by 100% after 8 minutes exposure. To demonstrate the potential of CAP-mediated mycotoxin degradation against more conventional methods, its efficiency was compared against ultraviolet C (UVC) light irradiation. In all cases, CAP was found to be considerably more efficient than UVC, with aflatoxin G1 and zearalenone being completely degraded, levels that could not be achieved using UVC irradiation.