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article imageDrinking lots of beer exposes toxin risk

By Tim Sandle     Jun 24, 2015 in Health
Valencia - Food scientists have analysed the extent of fungal toxins in various beers. The Spanish researchers have discovered surprisingly high levels of mycotoxins in certain brews.
First off, no beer analysed is in itself a risk to consumers. In all cases the levels of mycotoxins (toxins produced by fungi) were within acceptable safety levels. However, for heavy beer drinkers (defined as consuming more than a liter per day), then there is a risk that the levels of toxins taken in exceeds recommended limits.
For the study, researchers examined the mycotoxins associated with a common fungal genus found in fruit and crops called Fusarium, in over 150 different beers. These toxins are metabolic by-products, produced naturally by the fungus as it digests nutrients.
Fusarium toxins have a history of infecting the grain of developing cereals such as wheat and maize. The two most common mycotoxins were deoxynivalenol and HT-2. The average concentration of these mycotoxins was 30 µg/L per beer (where “µg” refers to micro-grams, a one thousandth of a gram.) the safe limit in the European Union is 200 µg per kilo, in relation grains.
However, for regular beer drinkers the safety limit creeps closer. The researchers state that “one litre a day of the brands of beer that showed the highest contamination levels, intake of deoxynivalenol would be equivalent to 60% of the maximum TDI, and the safety levels for HT-2 would be exceeded.”
The primary risk is with liver disease, should levels of mycotoxins build up. How each individual, who drinks a lot of beer, might be affected from a large beer intake is uncertain.
Beer consumption varies throughout Europe, with the European average being European average of 70.1 kg/year. Some countries like Iceland (142.8 kg/year) and Czech Republic (136.6 kg/year) are considerably higher.
The research was conducted at the University of Valencia. The findings have been published in the journal Food Chemistry, in a paper titled “Occurrence of Fusarium mycotoxins and their dietary intake through beer consumption by the European population.”
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