100 Coffee Samples Contain Toxic Mycotoxins

Health benefits of coffee

For many of us, a cup of coffee is one of the things that are included in our morning ritual. It’s up there with taking a shower and having breakfast.

Part of the reason we drink coffee is that it offers us that kick that helps us get going in the morning.

But did you know that along with the sugar, cream or whatever you put in your coffee, you may also have some mycotoxins along with your daily drink?

Myco… what?

A recent article published in the journal Food Control, reveals that in study done by researchers at the University of Valencia in Spain, mycotoxins were found in commercially sold coffee.

In fact, all 100 coffee samples that were tested came out positive for this carcinogen.

Do note that the samples of coffee that were tested were all commercially purchased in supermarkets in Spain.



Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by fungi (mold). Among the major groups of mycotoxins are aflatoxins, fumonisins, and ochratoxin. These substances are toxic to humans making them harmful to health.

Often mycotoxins enter the human body through the air. This can happen in homes where there is mold present as well as carpeting.

These substances can also enter one’s body through food. Crops that have toxic mold growing on them can result in you consuming food that’s contaminated with mycotoxins.

Small amounts of mycotoxins in food are permitted, mainly in part because they’re difficult to prevent due to the environmental factors, including humidity and temperature.

However, because they are harmful to human health and have been linked to liver disease and other health issues, consumption and or inhaling them is not recommended.

Some mycotoxins can be “killed” (made non-toxic) by using bleach (for surfaces), activated carbon (to get rid of them in the air), and cooking at high temperatures for certain periods of time.


Mycotoxins in Coffee Samples

The study noted that the mycotoxins found in the commercial coffee samples had concentrations in the range of 0.10 to 3.570 micrograms per kilogram.

Additionally, 5 of the 100 samples also had ochratoxin A, which exceeded the legal limit. This substance has been linked to tumor development as well as kidney disease in humans.

Incidentally, ochratoxin A is the only mycotoxin that the researchers could verify against a reference because it is the only mycotoxin that’s legislated. The amounts they found exceeded the legal maximum by 6 times the limit.

Because there is no legislation for the rest of the mycotoxins found in the samples, there is no maximum level of comparison to check on the concentration amounts and effects of these substances.

Also, the researchers point out that because there has been no population health risk assessment done on coffee, it is difficult to tell whether or not the levels of mycotoxins that were found in the coffee is something to worry about.


Regular Coffee Consumption

The issue of these carcinogens present in our coffee can be concerning because of how much we consume.

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee. Of the total coffee drinkers, 59% have a cup of Java daily and on average drink 2 cups of coffee per day.

Coffee is such a popular drink that in the U.S. alone Starbucks has over 12,900 stores. One good reason that you see them in just about every corner.

If you’re a coffee drinker, understanding what this means lets you decide on how it affects your coffee drinking habit.

Do note that while the concentration of ochratoxin A found in some coffee were over the maximum limit, the researchers say that the figures are “not alarming”.