The Heat Stable Ochratoxin in Moldy Coffee

I was wondering why a bunch of moist and moldy green coffee beans was still on the table. I think he should have thrown it away already. The molds, during roasting will be part of flavor development, will likely result to bad taste than good.

Anyway! The high roasting temperature will surely eradicate all those white filamentous molds. The taste maybe bad but not as bad as I thought. It maybe a bad coffee but still safe to drink after roasting.

I was mistaken. He said the moldy coffee contains ochratoxin. Another he also said it has ochratoxin.

What is ochratoxin? I thought it was “okra toxin”. Okra for ladies finger and toxin for poison.   Silly! Eager to know the real spelling, I literally typed “okra toxin” on Google. Pooop! the “ochratoxin” popped out.

Ochratoxin is carcinogenic and mutagenic. Produced by Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus carbonarius and Penicillium verrucosum. It is one of the most abundant food-contaminating mycotoxins.

I am not yet interested how potent it is. For now, I am interested if it is stable under high temperature or not.

Few results with sources:

1) Ochratoxin A is fairly stable to heat; in cereal products, up to 35% of the toxin survives autoclaving for up to 3 hours (IARC 1976). What a nice heat resistance!

2) t is also a frequent contaminant of water-damaged houses and of heating ducts. Survival in heating ducts means heat resistance.

3) Processes such as coffee roasting and baking of cereal products and biscuits can produce significant losses in ochratoxin levels. It said significant losses, not complete eradication.

I think three statements are enough to convince me. Moldy green coffee beans should be discarded not just because it contribute bad coffee flavor but also a hazard to human health.

1) Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition (2011).
Ochratoxin A
CAS No. 303-47-9


3) Food Safety Watch
The science of safe food
Richard Lawley – November 2007


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