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Researchers warn of toxins, feces on dried Mexico chilies

Researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) are warning consumers about the level of feces being detected on dried chilies.

They say that due to inadequate treatment in bulk marketing, there are a number of problems, one of which is related to the presence of animal feces, remains of insects and stones being detected on dried chilies.

Sara Esther Valdés Martínez, who has been working on projects related to food safety for more than three decades, says she has analyzed the most consumed dry chilies from four markets in the metropolitan area of Mexico City and found that they are carriers of some toxins.

Valdés Martínez works in the Laboratory of Food Analysis and Dairy Technology in the School of Higher Studies in Cuautitlán and explained that she tested the most commonly consumed chilies which were guajillo, pasilla, de árbol, piquín, cascabel, morita and ancho.

After a series of analyzes, the team detected Aspergillus niger, Alternatia Rhizopus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus glaucus, Helmintosporium, Aspergillus versicolor, Aspergillus Flavus, an aflatoxin-producing fungus and Penicilium Fusarium, a producer of fumonisins.

She says that although aflatoxins are regulated in Mexican corn, they are not regulated in dried chilies. “The risk to human health lies mainly in that the intake of these toxins is related to liver cancer,” she explained.

One of the objectives of the Food and Technology Analysis Laboratory is to develop products designed to meet current market needs.

Today, the tendency is to choose healthy, good-tasting, low-priced foods and reduce caloric rates, however, they warn that due to a lack of regulation and hygiene practices, many dried chilies show a presence of toxins and feces.