Several strains of Penicillium are used for the production of mold-ripened cheeses, and some of them are able to produce mycotoxins. The aims of the research were the determination of roquefortine C and PR toxin in domestic and imported blue cheeses, the identification of the penicillia used as starter, and the investigation of their capacity for producing toxins in culture media. Roquefortine C was always found in the cheeses at levels ranging from 0.05 to 1.47 mg/kg, whereas the PR toxin was never found. The identification of the fungal strains present in the domestic cheeses included Penicillium glabrum, Penicillium roqueforti, and Penicillium cyclopium in the Gorgonzola “dolce” and Penicillium roqueforti in the Gorgonzola “naturale”; in one case, the presence of Penicillium crustosum was observed. The strains isolated from the foreign cheeses belonged to P. roqueforti. The strains were able to produce between 0.18 and 8.44 mg/liter of roquefortine in yeast extract sucrose medium and between 0.06 and 3.08 mg/liter and less than 0.05 mg/liter when inoculated in milk at 20°C for 14 days and 4°C for 24 days, respectively. Linear relations between production of roquefortine in culture media and cheeses did not emerge. PR toxin ranged from less than 0.05 to 60.30 mg/liter in yeast extract sucrose medium and was produced in milk at 20°C from only one strain. The low levels and the relatively low toxicity of roquefortine make the consumption of blue cheese safe for the consumer.

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