Ever heard the word ‘mycotoxin’ and wondered what the deal is? Well we’re here to get you educated
Mycotoxins are, as the name suggests, toxins formed by moulds that are developed from fungi. Fungi, when stored incorrectly, can turn into mould - and can be present in some coffee beans if not handled accurately.
Coffee has always had a bad rep in terms of health benefits, with concerns about how caffeine affects the brain or how much is too much widely discussed. But on a different level, there’s discussion of mycotoxins being present in your coffee beans, and you probably wanna know what’s (c)up with that.
What are mycotoxins?
These naturally occurring toxins are not treated as a poison, and the levels of mycotoxins found in some coffee beans is not known to cause any major health concerns. Mycotoxins are produced within certain restrictions of water activity, nutrition availability and temperature - meaning that their growth can be controlled and eliminated.
How do we test for mycotoxins?
When we receive the coffee beans from our suppliers, they arrive pre-tested so we don’t need to test them ourselves! They do maximum residue limit tests (MRL), and this includes testing for herbicides and fungicides.
If an insignificant level is detected, there is no potential risk for consumers. However, if a large dose was found then it could be likely that it is harmful to human health. With our coffee beans being rigorously tested before they even reach our roasters, we can guarantee that there is no mycotoxins present in the beans we use.
How to eliminate mycotoxins…
1. Coffee and Caffeine
Some studies have shown that antibacterial properties of coffee may inhibit the growth of mycotoxin. Other studies indicate that caffeine slows the growth of fungi and inhibits the aflatoxin production by altering pH, which then interfere with fungal cell metabolism. While coffee properties contribute to inhibiting mycotoxin, these factors don’t guarantee coffee to be free of mycotoxin. This is why our suppliers do what is necessary to ensure our coffee is free from mycotoxin.
2. Wet processing
Our green beans go through wet processing, which helps prevent mycotoxin contamination in several ways. As the outer layers of coffee cherries are soaked and removed, fungal growth is inhibited. Drying coffee is also an important part of the process. As coffee reaches dryness, coffee cherries hold onto the remaining water content, resulting in a period of slow drying. Once this stage is reached, moisture is monitored to ensure that it goes under the water activity where mycotoxin-producing fungi are incapable of growth. Good harvesting, elimination of defected cherries, rapid drying, clean and dry storage, and controlled shipping from origin through to our beans suppliers are among the steps taken to ensure non-contaminated beans are used.
Mould that generates mycotoxins, like every other mould, love moisture! Our beans suppliers regulate and closely monitor moisture levels in green beans to ensure that moulds don’t thrive. Beans are also assessed for general physical quality and any sign of mouldiness (visual or smell). As we only supply from suppliers with a Food Safety System, we can be assured that critical control points are established and verified at all times.
When the beans arrive to us for roasting, dependent on the roasting process, 65 to 100% reduction of mycotoxin can be achieved.
5. Storage and Handling
Apart from regular testing and monitoring of processing techniques, proper storage and handling techniques are as important in preventing mycotoxin contamination. By adhering to Food Safety System regulation, we could assure that every critical aspect is monitored. Throughout storage, beans are always kept in cool and dry warehouse that prevent pest contamination and water ingress, stored away from direct sunlight. This is also the storage instruction for your pods, too! Proper storage in dark and cool places along with roasting helps prevent mould growth.