Since ancient times, chilis have been one of the most important elements of the human diet and its wide range of varieties has positioned it as an essential ingredient of Mexican cuisine.
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The dried chilies are basic to many dishes, but specialists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM ) warned that due to inadequate treatment in bulk marketing there are a number of problems, mainly related to the presence of animal feces, remains of insects and stones.
Sara Esther Valdés Martínez, who has been working on projects related to food safety for more than three decades, has a line of research in which she analyzed the most consumed dry chiles ( guajillo, pasilla, árbol, piquín, cascabel, morita, and ancho ) from four markets in the metropolitan area of Mexico City.
The specialist works in the Laboratory of Food Analysis and Dairy Technology in the School of Higher Studies (FES), Cuautitlán.
According to UNAM Global, the samples in this investigation included chiles of the third class, since “it was suspected that they could be carriers of toxins. ”
After a series of analyzes, the team detected Aspergillus niger, Alternatia Rhizopus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus glaucus, Helmintosporium, Aspergillus versicolor, Aspergillus Flavus, aflatoxin-producing fungus and Penicilium Fusarium, producer of fumonisins.
That is why the academic from the highest house of studies pointed out that, although the presence of aflatoxins is regulated in Mexican corn, it is necessary to create a standard for dried chiles.
“The risk to human health lies, mainly, in that the intake of these toxins is related to liver cancer,” said the expert.
One of the objectives of the Food and Technology Analysis Laboratory is to develop products designed to meet current market needs. Today, the tendency is to choose healthy, good-tasting, low-priced foods and reduce caloric rates.
With the participation of graduate students, the research projects developed in this university space are linked to food security.