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Food microbiology literature review


Brazil has a total area of 8,551,996 km2 occupying nearly half of South America and is the fifth largest country in the world. Brazil is divided into five regions, the North, Northeast, Central-West, South, and Southeast region. Brazil has four very well-defined seasons and balanced amounts of rainfall throughout the year. The North and Northeast regions have average temperatures of 26°C and rainfall greater than 2500 mm/year. The Central-West and Southeast regions have dry winters, wet summers, and rainfall from 1000 to 1500 mm/year. The South region has milder temperatures with rains of 1500 to 2000 mm/year, (Scussel, V. M., 2005).

Potential of Food spoilage

The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography. Brazil has the four main climate zones represented within, the equatorial, subtropical, tropical, and temperate zone. The climate diversity of the country provides optimal conditions of temperature and moisture for the growth of various species of fungi and production of mycotoxins.

Food Production, Import and Export in Brazil

As Brazil's soil is very rich in organic matter therefore it has a significant production of grain and other food commodities, allowing Brazil being the greatest economic potential of South America. Brazil has a wide variety of agricultural production which include coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus, beef, pork and poultry. Over the last few years, Brazil has dramatically increased financial support to its agricultural sector. In July 2008, Brazil's President announced the 2008/2009 Agricultural and Livestock Plan. The plan makes available R$65 billion, 11 percent increase over the previous year, with the intent of boosting agricultural production in the face of rising food prices and domestic inflation, (Scussel, V. M., 2005).

Stimulated by high international commodity prices, Brazil's agricultural exports exploded over the past 5 years, reaching a record $71.8 billion in 2008. Therefore, making Brazil being the third largest agricultural exporter in the world, behind the United States and the European Union. Agricultural shipments accounted for 36 percent of the country's total exports in 2008. Brazil rank top in the world in production and exports of coffee, sugar, and frozen concentrate orange juice, rank second in production and exports of soybeans, tobacco, beef, and poultry and rank third or fourth in production and exports of corn, pork and cotton, (Service, F. A., 2009).

Figure 1 and 2 below shows the top 10 imports and exports by quantity of Brazil in 2007. The top 10 imports by Brazil in 2007 are wheat, maize, malt, flour of wheat, rice miled, barley, rubber nat dry, rice husked, onions and pears. The top 10 exports by Brazil in 2007 are soybeans, cake of soybeans, centrifugal raw sugar, maize, sugar refined, chicken meat, soybean oil, green coffee, cattle meat and orange juice.

Brazil Food Law and System

Brazil is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and therefore has made commitments to subscribe to the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement and to Codex Alimentarius (CODEX) principles. Food regulations issued at the federal level are contained in various types of legal documents and, in order to be implemented must be published in Brazil's Diario Oficial which is similar to U.S. Federal Register.

Brazil has three levels of government: federal, state and municipal. Federal regulations must be followed when there are conflicts between federal, state and municipal legislation or between regulations established by different Ministries at the federal level. State and municipal governments also have the authority to regulate and enforce state and municipal laws.

In the federal government, numerous agencies and several Ministries share jurisdiction for ensuring the safety of the Brazilian food supply and regulating imports of agricultural commodities and foods. Primarily, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply (MAPA) and the Ministry of Health (MS) are the primary regulators of agricultural products through its National Agency of Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA). MAPA oversees and enforces a large number of regulations pertaining to production, marketing, import and export of animal origin products, fresh fruit, vegetables, alcoholic beverages, juices, grains, seeds, and animal feed. ANVISA enforces most of the regulations regarding processed food products.

Other Ministries and agencies also involved in monitoring and control of the food safety which include the Environment Protection Institute (IBAMA), the National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality (INMETRO). Also, the National Technical Commission on Biosafety (CNTBio), which is an inter-Ministerial Commission based in the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) and the Department of Consumer Protection and Defense (DPDC) within the Ministry of Justice.

The Brazilian Constitution defines the boundaries between federal, state and municipal law. It also defines the power each federal branch may hold through its legislative, judicial and executive power. As the executive power and its branches exercise authority to legislate activities related to foreign trade and food safety, importers and exporters may observe the set of rules each administrative agency releases as it directly impacts market access for foreign goods. Although Congress has responsibility for rule making, the power delegated to the Ministries and its various branches are considerable as they implement those rules and define them with more accuracy on the procedures that must be followed, (Fonseca, F., 2008).

Responsibilities of Key Ministries and Agencies in Maintaining Food Safety in Brazil

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) is responsible for formulating and executing all policies related to Brazilian agribusiness development. MAPA integrates science, technology, and market aspects to respond to domestic and international demand. MAPA's functions include the regulation, classification and inspection of imported agricultural products entering Brazil. The Ministry is composed of five major offices called Secretariats which are the Secretariat of Agricultural Protection (SDA), Secretariat of Agricultural Policy (SPA), Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock Development and Cooperativism (SDC), Secretariat of Production and Agro-Energy (SPAE) and Secretariat of International Agribusiness Relations (SRI). MAPA's regulatory activities of interest to this report are primarily enforced by SDA, SDC and SRI.

Department of Animal Origin Products Inspection Service (DIPOA)

DIPOA is responsible for ensuring that all animal origin products which comprise of meat from cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, game meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, seafood, honey and other products with more than 50 percent of animal origin composition, moving in interstate and foreign commerce are safe, wholesome for consumption, and accurately labeled. Under DIPOA there are 3 divisions overseeing meat, dairy and seafood products:

  • Division of Meat and by-products Inspection (DICAR)
  • Division of Milk and by-products Inspection (DILEI)
  • Division of Seafood and by-products Inspection (DIPES)

General Coordination for Sanitary Inspection on Agriculture and Livestock


VIGIAGRO is responsible for inspection and clearance of foreign products under MAPA's jurisdiction at Brazilian ports and airports. VIAGIAGRO also establishes the documents and procedures international companies must follow to have products cleared to enter the country.

Ministry of Health (MS) and National Agency of Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA)

The Ministry of Health's (MS) regulatory activities are enforced by an agency called National Agency of Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA). ANVISA is considered an autonomous agency. ANVISA is to function as the scientific regulatory agency responsible for the safety of all foods under its authority which comprise mainly the processed products. The agency is also responsible for overseeing the production and registration of drugs, food additives, medical devices, tobacco and tobacco products. ANVISA's primary function is to protect the public by assessing the food standards, safety, and contaminants. In addition, the agency is responsible for the compliance and registration of any food processing facility established in or exporting to Brazil, (Fonseca, F., 2008).

Regulations that ensure safety in food import from Fonseca, F. (2008)

Labelling Requirements

The Brazilian Consumer Protection Lei n° 8078 of September 11, 1990, requires that all domestic, imported foods and beverages must provide the consumer with correct, precise, clear and easily readable information about the product in Portuguese. According to the Consumer Protection Law, the Brazilian importer is held liable in case of health risk imparted on to consumer of an imported product. The expiration date, validity, or shelf life date is vital for Brazilian consumer.

MAPA requires that, on top of the registration of the foreign processing plant, the Brazilian importer must also file a request for the pre-registration of the foreign labels of processed meat, dairy, and seafood products. Only those products that have their labels preapproved by DIPOA are allowed to enter Brazil. Labeling has become an important item for inspection as the Brazilian authorities are increasingly concerned about misleading labeling.

Food Additive Regulation

ANVISA defines food additives as any ingredient without nutritional benefits deliberately added to food to modify its physical, chemical, biological and sensorial characteristics during any stage from processing, storage, handling to transportation. Before approved for consumption, any food additive is analyzed separately in order to prove its technological need and safety. This analysis includes the relationship of the additive to the product that it will be incorporated to, its functionality, studies and toxicological data. ANVISA will establish maximum limits for the active substance for the specific food product in which the additive will be incorporated to. If the additive is approved but the safety tolerance has not been set up, the amount to be used by the industry is the sufficient amount needed to obtain the desire result. Importers must make sure not only has the final products complied with the legislation but also its ingredients. Specific regulations are available for sugars, sweeteners, food for special needs, aromas, confectionery, chocolates, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, soup and broths, meat and meat products, cereals, fruits and vegetable products, frozen products, jams, dairy products, sauces and condiments, oils, fat, eggs and egg products, seafood and seafood products, cookies, breads, desserts, supplements, colorants, flavorings, yeast and additives in accordance with GMP.

Inspection Requirements for Meat, Dairy, and Seafood Products

In order to export animal origin products such as beef, pork, powdered milk, whey, lactose, cheese, and seafood to Brazil, it requires that the foreign processing plants must be inspected by federal agencies. State level inspection is not accepted and products from these plants will not be registered in Brazil.

Inspection Requirements for Plant Products

All unprocessed products of plant origin such as the bulk grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds, can only be exported to Brazil if accompanied by an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS/PPQ) phytosanitary certificate. However, frozen fruits and vegetables do not need a phytosanitary certificate. Some products also need to conduct a Pest Risk Assessment (PRA) before exporting the products to Brazil.

Imports Procedures Prior to Shipment

Step 1: The importer must ensure the Brazilian Government (GoB) allows import of the product. All ingredients contained in the product should meet GoB specifications and tolerance levels. The importer will generate a list containing the ingredients, quantitative, qualitative characteristics, additives, colorants and a description of the ingredient's functions.

Step 2: Labeling of food and beverage products must be in accordance to GoB regulations. The exporter should forward a sample of the package to the importer.

Step 3: If the product is allowed to be marketed, the legal representative of the exporting company, must request product registration, or an official exemption from registration. As it is common practice in Brazil to retain the services of a private consultant for registration of products. If there is more than one importer for the same product, each importer must make an independent request. These forms must be delivered to the local office of the Ministry of Health in the state where the importer is legally based.

Step 4: Before shipment, the exporter must send a pro forma invoice to the Brazilian importer, as this document starts the import clearance process. The pro forma invoice must be filled outproperly; otherwise the importer will not be able to file an import application.

Step 5: The administrative process starts. Since 1997, all import and export approval operations must occur through the Integrated Foreign Trade System (SISCOMEX). The importer requests an import permit, the Import License (LI), which must be obtained before shipment. All food and beverage products fall under the "non-automatic clearance" category and agricultural products under ANVISA must be approved by the Ministry of Health prior to shipment.

Imports Procedures during Shipment

Step 6: Following embarkation, the foreign exporter must send some documentations that will allow the importer to release goods from Brazilian customs. Documentation required includes:

  • Shipping information.
  • Commercial invoice.
  • Certificate of origin if required.
  • Lab phitosanitary certificate if required.

Imports Procedures upon Product Arrival

Step 7: When goods arrive in Brazil, the importer or a contracted customs broker who represent the importer must prepare the Import Declaration (DI). The necessary documentation to fill out the Import Declaration includes:

  • Commercial invoice.
  • Shipping information.
  • Import License.
  • Receipt for payment of Import Tax (II).
  • Receipt for payment of Tax on Industrial Products (IPI).
  • Other documents may be required depending on the specific product or transaction type.

Mercosul countries including Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, have adopted the Mercosul Common Nomenclature (NCM) system for product classification. The NCM is based on the international methodology of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System or simple Harmonized System (HS). The NCM is formed by 8 digits, the first 6 digits follows the HS codes while the seventh and eight digits correspond to Mercosul specifications. Through the NCM, the amount of taxes to be paid is defined. Importers may present a single invoice for different NCMs, however, a separate LI is required for each NCM code.

Step 8: The clearance process starts when the product arrives in Brazil. The importer initiates the procedures. Clearance from customs consists of a series of acts carried out by a customs official who will authorize the release of the goods to the importer after the verification of product classification and tax payments. After the reception of documents, the system will automatically select inspection/verification method to be applied. They are:

  • Green: customs clearance authorization is automatically issued.
  • Yellow: mandatory inspection of documentation is required and, if no evidence of irregularities is found, customs clearance is issued.
  • Red: mandatory inspection of documentation and of goods is required before customs clearance authorization is issued.
  • Grey: mandatory inspection of documents, merchandise, and recalculation of import taxes applied.

Except for the green option, all documents including the Import Declaration, the receipt generated by the SISCOMEX and the Value Added Tax (ICMS) payment receipt must be presented to the Secretariat of Federal revenue (SRF). For goods assigned the grey option, a Declaration of Customs Value (DVA) must be made and transmitted via SISCOMEX to justify the product price and commercial aspects of the transaction. After registering customs clearance, the fiscal authority will release an Import Confirmation (CI), approving customs clearance and the entry of goods. The documents to be presented to the health authorities are:

  • Lab/ phitosanitary certificate.
  • Certificate of origin.
  • Control analysis.

Food legislation and regulations mentioned above has important functions as it protects and sets the standard for the market. It also guarantees the safety of consumers and minimizes the health risks arising from food exposed to the population. Food legislation and law differ from each country due to the different development of new foods, different eating habits, different food technologies and new discoveries by the country. It is therefore important that the foods are in accordance with some appropriate standard set by the country but it is also important to have flexible legislation that is able to keep up with changes occurring in the country, (Lajolo, F. M., & Miyazaki, E., 2007).

Food Safety Issue in Brazil

Even though the number of enterprises concerned with food safety in Brazil is growing, this sector still faces many problems specific to developing countries like Brazil. In the section below, some case studies will be discussed with specific foods were selected. The problems encountered while handling the food will also be discussed.

Palm Heart

The most important vegetable of the palm family is hearts of palm which are obtained from about twenty different species of palm but mainly from the Assai palm, the only species cultivated on plantations in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay for this purpose. After a coconut palm is felled the large leaves are chopped off and the coconuts removed. The edible hearts are the crunchy-creamy terminal buds from which all the new leaves will emerge. This is chopped out with the fibrous husk removed. Most edible palms have one heart and after harvest, it literally kills the tree. The heart of a 32-foot coconut palm will weigh between four and seven pounds; but usually it requires two trees, ten to fifteen years old, to obtain two pounds of hearts. In the 1980s, at least 100 million wild palm trees were destroyed annually in Brazil alone. The delicate white heart is characterized by a crunchy consistency and an intensely nutty flavour. It is particularly popular eaten raw in salads. Canned hearts of palm are widely available in most supermarkets, (Duff, S. 2007).

Clostridum botulinum Found in Canned Palm Heart - Risk analysis from Aquino, A. M. d. (2002)

Since the occurrence of three cases of canned palm heart-associated botulism in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Risk analysis was started and the Technical Group was established, formed by different stakeholders, such as from the scientific community. Examples were the Food Technology Institute (FTI) and the Adolfo Lutz Institute (ALI).

Initial Emergency Measure

Due to the emergency nature of the situation and the virulence of the toxin Clostridum botulinum, a warning to the Population was published in the most popular newspapers of the country. An official release was made to the Sanitary Surveillance Bodies of the States and recalling the brands which have caused the outbreak. It was then decided to carry out laboratory analyses to monitor if the Critical Control Point of the product which is the pH value was within the 4.5 limit in all the batches available in the market.

Following the warning to the Population, the official press published the resolution that canned palm hearts should be labeled in a clear and readable way for the consumers, with the following warning: "For safety, this product should only be consumed after being boiled either in the can fluid or in freshwater for 15 minutes". This warning was further elaborated from scientific studies developed by the Food Technology Institute (FTI).

The warning label was adopted provisionally as an emergency measure, after since only the approved companies were exempted from wearing the warning label in their products. The registration of the products from companies which did not meet the requirements was cancelled and the authorization to process such products was withdrawn.

Identifying of Critical Control Point

The Consumers' Protection Institute played a crucial role in communication with the Population and it carried out a market research collecting samples from 15 separate brands of canned palm heart. The outcome of this study was made known through an interview about canned palm heart associated with Clostridum botulinum in the most popular television network during prime time. Brands with Clostridum botulinum found in the canned palm heart were prohibited from releasing their product to public and their batches released only after an additional laboratory analysis was performed. As the hazard has been clearly identified and characterized hence the risk evaluation was based upon the study of the productive process, specifically focusing on the canned palm heart processing stages considered critical for Clostridium botulinum control. As a result of the study, the stages of product acidification and thermal treatment were identified as pH and temperature where the treatment goes through are the most crucial point to inhibit growth of Clostridum botulinu.

Endorsement of Canned Palm Heart Standard and Good Manufacturing Practices

Based upon the studies carried out, resolutions for Canned Palm Heart Standard and Good Manufacturing Practices were endorsed. According to the information emerging from the Regulations, the Technical Group then elaborated directives for the National Program of Sanitary Inspection for the Canned Palm Heart Industry. The resolutions established a term of 180 days for the companies to implement Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and monitoring of Critical Control Points of the productive process. To meet these requirements, companies should also train a specialist in GMP.

NASS asked the Brazilian Supermarket Association to buy only canned palm hearts having the warning label while this provision was still in effect from 29 April, 1999 to 19 February, 2000. After February 2000, the companies could not continue marketing the canned palm heart with the warning label as they should buy and distribute only products with registration and brand authorized by Sanitary Surveillance.

By that time, the population was informed through the media they could consume canned palm heart without the warning label, since the products commercially available had been authorized at the sanitary inspection. NASS offered a site in the Internet including all the brands, industries, and numbers of approved registrations after they have been gazetted.

After Action Review after Occurrence

Due to the occurrence of cases of canned palm heart-associated botulism, risk communication showed the need to re-organize the Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance Systems in Brazil. To pay better attention to cases, epidemiological surveillance of the major State of the country, São Paulo, established a Reference Center for Botulism. This national-scope center is in operation 24 hours a day, available through a toll-free line telephone line and has a technical team trained in giving orientation. They also provide advice to health professionals regarding diagnosis, treatment, and research on the different signs and symptoms of the disease. The Reference Center for Botulism comprises the Institute Butantan which has the technical conditions to produce and have the anti-botulinic serum for the whole country and for Latin America.

The setting up of the inspection program within industries was the responsibility of sanitary surveillance bodies of the states jointly with NASS, and was achieved by educating sanitary inspectors on the importance of product control, and training of 62 inspectors regarding Good Manufacturing Practices for canned palm heart, the productive process safety evaluation, and harmonization of technical-legal procedures.

Only industries that achieved the control of the critical points in the productive process defined by risk assessors, and meeting other requirements established by the aforementioned Resolutions, were approved during sanitary inspection. There were nearly 519 industries when the Program was started however this figure dropped to 120 authorized industries in September 2001. Since the implementation of the Program, routine sanitary inspection was established as well as the commitment of the productive sector regarding the product safety.

Although risk communication had an effect on the productive sector and decreased product consumption in the country, communication was found to be extremely positive, considering the following aspects:

  • Training of 62 inspectors from NASS and the 27 surveillance agencies from the States regarding GMP for canned palm heart.
  • Enhancement of sanitary inspection at producing premises and stores.
  • Oorganization of the productive sector in associated entities.
  • Mandatory implementation for industries to have a trained technician in GMP in canned palm heart.
  • Creation and availability in the internet of a data base on brands, registrations and industries authorized by sanitary surveillance and those whose registrations had been cancelled.
  • Encouragement for the creation of a Reference Center for Botulism, what allowed for the reorganization of the flow of notification and sanitary, epidemiological, and laboratory investigation of the disease

Since the risk communication as of April 1999, no other case of canned palm heart associated with botulism was observed in Brazil.

Mycotoxins in Brazilian Foods

Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites that can produce harmful effects in humans and animals. More than 300 of these toxic compounds are known and they are present in wide variety with respect to chemical structure and toxic effects. Mycotoxin contamination may occur in the field when toxigenic fungi are present and the grains are exposed to drought, insect damage, and unusually high rain levels or in excessively low temperatures. Improper storage conditions have been associated as one of the main causes of mycotoxin contamination. The fungi that most frequently colonize grains in the field are Alternaria and Cladosporium, which seldom develop further during storage. The species predominantly found during storage are Aspergillus and Penicillium. Fusarium species can develop in both stages. Aflatoxins, produced exclusively by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus causes the greatest damage to humans and animals as they occur widely and are highly toxic. The most important aflatoxins found in foods are B1, G1, B2, and G2 which shows carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic properties in humans and many animals, (Arslan, O., 2001).

Due to the harmful effects caused by mycotoxins, prevention and control procedures to reduce mycotoxin formation in crops are very well established by the cooperatives. With regard to Brazilian laboratory accreditation and monitoring programs, the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry (MA) has established laboratory accreditation for aflatoxin analysis. The MA's reference laboratory is located in the state of Minas Gerais (MG). For a laboratory to be accredited, it must meet several criteria set by the reference laboratory. This includes practices and procedures related to methodology, safety, reference standard handling, sampling procedures, and staff training. Monitoring programs have been carried out throughout the country by the MA4 and the Ministry of Health (MH) through the Sanitary Vigilance Agency.

In Brazil, a large amount of research has been conducted on aflatoxins and other mycotoxin food contamination as it relates to human health. Studies include the identification of various toxigenic fungi genera and species, mapping of different crop regions, method development, and agronomic and storage practices to reduce aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxins are currently being monitored in several different foods. These data are primarily on processed peanuts and corn and also include beans, rice, wheat, Brazil nuts, dried fruits, and other commodities. Nevertheless apart from the measures and studies taken place, mycotoxin-contaminated foods are still present, especially during drought or other stress conditions such as flood or high insect proliferation in the field. The major concern in Brazil is still Aflatoxins. Peanuts are the main crop affected, (Scussel, V. M., 2005).


Data collected from published research articles found in the database of Food Science and Technology Abstracts shows that about 52% of peanuts and peanut products were contaminated with aflatoxins out of a total of 1866 samples. 28% of the samples had levels of aflatoxins B1 plus G1 greater than 30 ppb, the maximum level tolerated by the Brazilian legislation. Due to climatic variations, the frequency and level of contamination changes drastically depending on the year of harvest. Several Brazilian studies conducted in the 1960s showed that the incidence of aflatoxin was higher in peanuts harvested during the rainy season probably as a result of poor drying, (Arslan, O., 2001).

Most of Brazil's peanut production comes from the state of São Paulo. The South and Southeast regions of Brazil were for commercialized raw and processed peanuts. The percentage of positive samples varied from about 8 to 80% of total samples, regardless of the harvesting year. The high level detected in peanut commercialized in Rio Grande do Sul corresponded to that aflatoxin contamination in peanuts and peanut products in Brazil is still a serious problem. Occasionally, disturbingly high levels of AFL have been identified in peanuts from São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. High AFL levels in peanuts suggest that more adequate control measures should be introduced. Therefore, São Paulo has improved its agricultural practices for harvesting, storing, and processing peanuts in order to reduce contamination. It is also important to emphasize that most of the peanut products in South region came from São Paulo, but these same products were packed and commercialized in the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarian or Parana too, (Scussel, V. M., 2005).

However, technologies such as artificial drying of peanuts in the shell, which could lead to a reduction in the levels of aflatoxin, are still unavailable to the producers at reasonable costs. Only some large companies that process peanuts attempt to control mycotoxins, and are able to place safe products on the market. However, smaller producers, for lack of knowledge, lack of capital or due to the inefficiency of the public inspection process, do not carry out these controls, and sometimes even use products rejected by larger processing companies, (Arslan, O., 2001).

Hasseltine made the following observations regarding peanuts, Hesseltine, C.W. (1967):

  1. Growth and formation of aflatoxin occur mostly during the curing of peanuts after removal from soil.
  2. In a toxic lot of peanuts, only comparatively few kernels contain toxin, and success in detecting the toxic depends on collecting a relatively large sample such as 1kg.
  3. The toxin will vary greatly in amount even within a single kernel.
  4. The two most important factors affecting aflatoxin formation are moisture and temperature.


One of the country's main dietary staples is corn. The occurrence of aflatoxins found in corn is not as frequent as for peanuts and has less aflatoxin contamination compared to peanuts. However, the consequences in humans from constantly consuming corn naturally contaminated with mycotoxins have not been completely studied. Of a total of 227 samples of corn and its products produced in São Paulo State, only 2 samples (0.9%) were contaminated with aflatoxin fumonisins B1. However, 26% of 511 samples of corn, both grain and processed, cultivated or produced in the southern states were contaminated with aflatoxins. This could be due to the weather condition different between the 2 states. The contamination with aflatoxins was also low (6%) for popcorn produced in São Paulo, while the incidence was higher (33%) when the popcorn was from a warmer state, Ceará, (Arslan, O., 2001).

Aflatoxins can be reduced in corn by bisulfite. Fumonisins B1 production commenced only after 2 weeks of active growth. Acidic conditions were conducive for fumonisins B1production while alkaline conditions were repressive therefore altering of the pH could reduce the production and adjusting water activity could also suppress the production of fumonisins B1. At low water activity of 0.925, the toxin produced is lower than at high water activity, (Jay, J. M., Loessner, M. J., & Golden, D. A., 2005).

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are an important product for the northern economy of Brazil. However, some constraints are placed on their export due to aflatoxin contamination when sold in shells. Studies have been carried out to evaluate AFL contamination and to assess the risk points prior to harvesting or processing of Brazil nuts. Nuts were collected from dense rain forest in the state of Acre after pods fell naturally from trees, and they were analyzed for fungi and aflatoxins. Aspergillus flavus and A. niger were the predominant species throughout the harvesting period of 90 days. No aflatoxin contamination was observed, suggesting that environmental conditions in the forest are not suitable for toxin production. However, the presence of fungi indicates the need for rigorous quality control of temperature and humidity, especially during transportation and storage of in-shell Brazil nuts. AFLs are seldom detected in Brazil nuts that are shelled, (Scussel, V. M., 2005).


In conclusion, there are still some major food safety issues in Brazil although there is a food control system in place. Some of the important factors that cause food contamination of mycotoxins and Clostridium botulinum are the wide diversity in weather conditions and some factories with low capital not able to process food in the desire condition. The weather conditions in Brazil that cause large amount of rainfall and higher temperature at various regions are some of the factors that promote toxin growth. In order to minimize the health risks exposed to the population, the government will require a efficient risk analysis agency to be able to examine and identity the critical control point then set controls or standards to control the situation as shown in case study of canned Palm Heart.

Lastly, although the government and respective agencies are largely responsible for the food safety to the Population and minimize microbiological hazards exposed to the population however the role of consumers in food control should also be investigated.


  • Aquino, A. M. d. (2002). Brazil Institutional Experience for the Implementation of Risk Analysis.
  • Arslan, O. (2001). Food Safety Issues in Developing Nations: A Case Study of Brazil Interdisciplinary Food Safety Research (pp. 34): CRC Press LLC.
  • Duff, S. (2007). Palm Heart Retrieved 3rd October, 2009, from
  • FAOSTAT (2009). Retrieved 3rd October, 2009, from
  • Fonseca, F. (2008). Brazil FAIRS Report.
  • Hesseltine, C.W. (1967). Aflatoxins and other mycotoxins. Health Lab. Sci.
  • Jay, J. M., Loessner, M. J., & Golden, D. A. (2005). Mycotoxins Modern Food Microbiology: Springer.
  • Lajolo, F. M., & Miyazaki, E. (2007). Functional Foods Legislation in Brazil Anti-Angiogenic Functional and Medicinal Foods (pp. 16): Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
  • Scussel, V. M. (2005). Recent South American Perspectives Aflatoxin and Food Safety (pp. 29): Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
  • Service, F. A. (17th March 2009). Brazil Retrieved 3rd October, 2009, from