Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungal species which can usually be found in foodstuffs. The effects of some food-borne mycotoxins are acute, symptoms of severe illness appearing very quickly. Other mycotoxins occurring in food have longer term chronic or cumulative effects on health, including the induction of cancers and immune deficiency. Thus, Regulation (EC) 1881/2006, partially amended by other Regulations, set maximum contents of some mycotoxins in different foodstuffs allowing to evaluate risks and take actions to protect public health. In this chapter, mycotoxins with significant health and food production impact are discussed by considering the following items: chemical structure, conditions of their production, occurrence in food, maximum limits, toxicity and analytical methods. The chapter also includes the exposure assessment approach to these food contaminants, their metabolism and the proposed biomarkers in the literature. A final remark about the toxicogenomic approach is also included in the chapter as a future trend in the study of mycotoxins.
Keywords: Aflatoxins, Alternaria toxins, Biomarkers, Chromatography, Emerging fusariotoxins, Exposure assessment, Food, Fumonisins, Mass spectrometry, Metabolism, Metabolites, Mycotoxins, Ochratoxin A, Occurrence, Patulin, Trichothecenes, Toxicity, Zearalenone.