ABSTRACT

Almonds rejected as inedible are often used for production of almond oil. However, low-quality almonds are frequently contaminated with aflatoxins, and little is known regarding transfer of aflatoxins to almond oil during processing. In this study, oil was produced from reject almonds by hexane extraction. Of 19 almond samples that were naturally contaminated with aflatoxins, 17 oil samples contained measurable amounts of aflatoxins, and aflatoxin content of contaminated oil was correlated with aflatoxin content of the nuts. However, oil aflatoxin levels were not correlated with the oxidation level of the oil as measured by percent free fatty acids and peroxide value. Adsorbents used in oil refining were tested for their ability to remove aflatoxins from contaminated oil. Fuller's earth and bentonite were the most effective, removing 96 and 86% of total aflatoxins from contaminated oil samples, respectively. Treatment with diatomaceous earth, in contrast, had no effect on aflatoxin levels in oil. These results show that oil refining steps using mineral clay adsorbents may also function to remove aflatoxins from contaminated oil.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Aflatoxin present in contaminated almonds can contaminate oil from those nuts.

  • Aflatoxin in oil correlated with aflatoxin in nuts, but not with oil quality.

  • Mineral clay adsorbents were effective in removing aflatoxin during oil refining.

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