Improving food safety in Bangladesh

What are Natural Toxins?


Food is a source of nutrients for humans. But some food can contain harmful natural occurring toxins which may lead to adverse reactions in humans and have a carcinogenic effect.

Some of these natural toxins are:

Glycoalcaloids: Chemical compounds produced in the green spots of stored potatoes. To prevent its ingestion, remove green spots before cooking.

Mycotoxins: They are toxic compounds produced by fungi grown in different foods.

O Aflatoxin A1, A2, B1, B2: They can be present in groundnuts, treenuts, maize, rice, figs and other dried foods, spices and crude vegetable oils, and cocoa beans, as a result of fungal contamination before and after harvest.

O Aflatoxin M1: It can be present in milk when cows are fed with a diet contaminated with aflatoxin B1.

O Patulin: It is formed in the mouldy and damage apples

O Ochratoxins: It was first reported in cereals, but has since been found in other products, including coffee, dried fruits, wine, beer, cocoa, nuts, beans, peas, bread and rice.

Mycotoxins are heat-stable molecules. Discard food products or grains presenting fungi contamination.

Lectins: Chemical compounds found in red kidney beans. To destroy toxins, red kidneys have to be soaked in water for at least 5 hours and cook thoroughly.

Cyanogenic glucosides: Chemical compounds found in raw or unprocessed cassava and bamboo shoots. Cook them thoroughly, either by baking, boiling or roasting.

Amygdalin: It is an hydrogen cyanide which occurs naturally in apple and pear seeds. Accidental swallowing of a seed or pip is not a concern. However, do not make it an habit.

Tetradotoxins: Toxin formed in the internal organs of the blowfish which can paralyze human peripheral nerves. Normal cooking does not get rid of the toxicity.

Fish and algae toxins: Certain marine algae contain potent toxins produced by cyanobacteria that impact human health through the consumption of contaminated shellfish and finfish. Maintaining clean water reservoirs during shellfish and finfish production is crucial to avoid the growth of cyanobacteria which produce these toxins.