Ochratoxin A in Coffee

With the popularity of coffee in recent years, there have been concerns that coffee may contain mycotoxins such as ochratoxin A, which may affect human health.

Ochratoxin A, a potential carcinogenic contaminant, mainly occurs in cereal products. It is also found in a range of other food commodities including coffee. However, there are ways to reduce ochratoxin A via good agricultural practices throughout the stages of planting, harvest and storage of coffee.

In 2006, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) conducted a risk assessment study on the levels of ochratoxin A in local foods. The results showed that the level of ochratoxin A was low in coffee and posed minimal risk to consumers. Furthermore, in 2013, the Total Diet Study (TDS) of the CFS revealed that the general adult population was unlikely to experience major undesirable health effects related to ochratoxin A.

Another interesting finding in our TDS was related to acrylamide, another carcinogenic contaminant. It is commonly known that high levels of acrylamide are found in potato chips. However, the public might not be aware that certain stir-fried vegetables also contain relatively high levels of acrylamide.

To reduce the level of exposure to acrylamide, the public is advised to blanch the vegetables before frying, or consider other cooking methods such as boiling or steaming.