Penicillium commune, a mold frequently found on dry-cured meat products, is able to synthesize the mycotoxin cyclopiazonic acid (CPA). To evaluate the hazard due to CPA on such foods, the ability of P. commune to grow and produce CPA at water activities (aw) in the range of 0.99 to 0.90 with a meat extract–based medium from 12 to 30°C was determined. CPA was quantified by high-pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. P. commune was able to grow at every aw and temperature tested. The optimal environmental conditions for growth were 20 to 25°C, at 0.97 to 0.96 aw, but the highest amount of CPA was produced at 30°C, 0.96 aw. No direct correlation between growth rate and CPA production was assessed. Temperature seems to be the most important factor influencing CPA production. However, there was an interaction between temperature and aw that significantly (P < 0.001) affected growth and CPA production. An aw of 0.90 had a marked effect, depressing growth and CPA production. Meat extract–based medium proved to be an appropriate substrate for CPA biosynthesis by P. commune under a wide range of conditions.

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