Is Mold an Issue?
As people become aware of the negative effects on their health in an increasingly toxic world, many are taking steps to minimize the risks. But what are the risks? With so much information available, it is difficult to filter through and find what is factual.
We are especially concerned as organic coffee producers with ensuring that the highest measures are implemented to provide our customers with the safest organic coffee.
Coffee, despite its numerous health benefits has recently been under scrutiny for its potential, like many other crops to be susceptible to mold growth. Mold growth on foods can result in the production of toxic complex secondary metabolic by-products referred to as mycotoxins which can be harmful if heavily ingested. All coffee however, especially certified organic coffee is graded on quality. Having molds or mycotoxins present significantly lowers the coffee’s score and if it exceeds a certain level, the crops will be discarded. The coffee farmer’s pay is subsequently based on the results of this extensive quality testing. Any good quality coffee is grown, washed, dried and processed accordingly resulting in “no detectable mycotoxin levels” as in s.a.Wilson’s case. Numerous countries, including the US and Canada have also imposed regulations to ensure that imported foods have safe mycotoxin levels. Mycotoxin levels in coffee and any other imported crops, because of these regulations, will never be high enough to cause any negative health effects. Coffee is also roasted at over 500 degrees. Any mold and most of the mycotoxins that may still exist at this point would not survive. According to studies, roasting coffee can reduce levels in the beans by 90% and the majority of brands of coffee, organic and conventional were found to have no detectable levels or less than 1ng/g.
There is an organic coffee producer who may be to blame for perpetuating the idea that mold is a major concern by promoting that their coffee is a better choice being “lower in mold toxins”. It is a clever marketing tactic on their part, but the truth is there is no trademarked brand of organic coffee that can claim they have the lowest levels of mold toxins because all organic coffee is essentially mold free.
So, is the possibility of mycotoxins from mold in organic coffee a concern? The answer is no. Very minimal levels can be found in a number of natural foods and pose no discernible risk. Eliminating them entirely is not possible but as conscientious consumers, being accurately informed can help you to properly identify real health concerns from propaganda.
Brian St. Pierre
Coffee … Upgraded?
G.v.d. Stegen, U.Jorissen, A.Pittet, M.Saccon, W.Steiner, M.Vincenzi, M.Winkler, J.Zapp & Chr. Schlatter
Food Additives & Contaminants
Volume 14, 1997-Issue 3
Screening of European coffee final products for occurrence of ochratoxin A (OTA)
Taylor & Francis Online
The Truth about Coffee and Mycotoxins
Authority Health Research based Reporting