There is a possibility for the presence of fungi as well as mycotoxins in spices due to the improper methods used before and after harvesting, without controlling temperature and moisture during prolong storage period or may be during transportation. The purpose of this study was to detect and identify fungal contamination in some commonly used spices in Pakistan. Spices are available in Pakistan markets in loose packing and they are easily contaminated with dust, waste water and human/animal excreta. In present study five different spices such as black pepper (Piper nigrum), cardamom large (Amomum subulatum), cinnamon (Cinamomum zeylanicum), coriander (Coriandrum sativum) and red chili (Capsicum annuum) were used for detection of fungus as well as aflatoxins. During fungal contamination test out of five spices, with the exception cinnamon all four spices were found contaminated with various fungal species. The most common organisms identified were Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus, Aspergillus foetidus, Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus ellipticus. In total, twelve different fungal species have been detected and also identified through scanning electron microscope (SEM). Thin layer chromatography (TLC) assay was performed for aflatoxins detection and the results revealed that red chili was heavily contaminated with aflatoxins than other selected spices.
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