Desiccated mushrooms, seaweed, rice sticks and anchovies imported from the Orient were obtained from commercial sources or from products detained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and examined for pathogenic fungi. The etiological agents isolated were mycelial and yeast fungi known to produce deep sporotrichosis, phaeohyphomycosis, mycetoma, chromoblastomycosis, candidosis and cryptococcosis. Other fungi isolated were opportunistic fungi and/or producers of mycotoxins. Total mold counts in the foods examined varied from 2 × 102 to 5 × 106. The predominant pathogens in the mushrooms were Sporothrix schenckii and Wangiella dermatitidis, and counts in the mushrooms imported from Thailand and Taiwan were as high as 1 × 106; however, these pathogens were not isolated from rice sticks, seaweed or anchovies. All presumed pathogenic strains were pathogenic for mice by intraperitoneal injection of 1 × 106 to 107 conidia in saline suspension. It was concluded that food can harbor “virulent” fungal pathogens and potentially opportunistic invaders as well as potentially toxigenic fungi.

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Author notes

1Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists held in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 16–19, 1987.