Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium species frequently contaminate crops. For this reason mycotoxins such as aflatoxins (AFs), ochratoxin A (OTA), fumonisins (FBs), and zearalenone (ZEA) are found in food and feed in a wide range of concentrations, depending on environmental and storage conditions. Consumption of mycotoxin-contaminated food and feed has been associated with acute and chronic poisoning and carcinoma. The aim of this study was to determine the incidence and co-occurrence of AFs (B1+B2+G1+G2), OTA, FBs (B1+B2+B3), and ZEA in 37 samples of cereals and feed randomly collected in 2007 from households of an endemic nephropathy (EN) area in Croatia. The mycotoxins were determined using the competitive direct ELISA test (CD-ELISA) in combination with thin-layer chromatography (TLC). The most frequent mycotoxin was ZEA (92%, mean 318.3 microg kg-1), followed by FBs (27%, 3690 microg kg-1), AFs (24.3%, 4.6 microg kg-1), and OTA (16.2%, 9.8 microg kg-1). Levels of AFs, ZEA, and FBs detected by CD-ELISA significantly correlated with the TLC results. However, only one OTA-positive sample was confirmed by TLC due to its high limit of detection. The levels of these mycotoxins were below the permissible limit for animal feed. Twenty-nine percent of cereals were contaminated with FBs, OTA, or ZEA in mass fractions above the permissible limit for humans. Co-occurrence of two toxins varied between 4.2% and 54% and of three between 4.2% and 7.6%. Prolonged co-exposure to AFs, OTA, FBs, and ZEA might increase the risk of various chronic diseases.
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