Currently, the presence of the most important and known mycotoxins, such as patulin, aflatoxins and ochratoxin A, is considered unusual in tomato products, and the contamination by the mycotoxins produced by Alternaria spp. and Fusarium spp. is irrelevant. In fact, the fungal species that most frequently spoil tomatoes belong to genera such as Cladosporium, Botrytis, Rhizopus, Mucor, Colletotrichum and only rarely to the genera Alternaria and Fusarium.
- a) Patulin.
The fungal species Penicillium expansum, the most important species responsible for the production of patulin in fresh fruit, is not included among the moulds that can frequently spoil tomatoes. Penicillium expansum is the main cause of spoilage and patulin contamination of apples and pears and, to a lesser extent, of stone fruits such as peaches, apricots, cherries, plums.
- b) Aflatoxins and ochratoxin A.
Also the fungal species that produce aflatoxins, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus nomius, such as those that produce ochratoxin A (Penicillium verrucosum, Penicillium nordicum, Aspergillus ochraceus and Aspergillus carbonarius) are not included among the most frequent moulds that normally spoil tomatoes.
In a trial conducted at SSICA it was observed that in artificially contaminated tomato products (strained tomatoes, double and triple concentrate), aflatoxins degraded in three months of storage at room temperature.
- c) Mycotoxins of the genera Alternaria and Fusarium.
The mycotoxins produced by the genus Alternaria (in particular: alternariols and tenuazoic acid) are indicated as occasional contaminants of tomato products and the levels found are not considered relevant at present nor represent a risk for the consumer.
Some species of Fusarium, such as F. equiseti, F. moniliforme (verticillioides), F. oxysporum and Fusarium solani, can settle on fresh tomatoes; however, they are not the most frequent causes of spoilage of this berry. Moreover, in the most recent literature there are no reports concerning the production of zearalenone, DON and fumonisins in tomato and its products by Fusarium species. Therefore, even the mycotoxins produced by Fusarium spp. are not considered of significant interest for tomato products. With regard to these phytopathogenic species, the problem is tackled by means of prevention interventions on the field.