There has been concern that some food products, such as coffee, are heavily contaminated with mycotoxins that may increase inflammation and brain fog, leaving you with with even more fatigue (1). Many people have told me that they only have a certain brand as it is the ONLY one that doesn't contain moulds and mycotoxins.
A mycotoxin is a chemical produced by fungi, that is...you've guessed it...toxic. As a scientist and pharmacist it's been ingrained in me a to have a high attention to detail. Also since I drink a lot of coffee I had to find out if this more of an issue than I thought.
Some mycotoxins, particularly alfatoxins, are hazardous causing DNA damage. Ochratoxin A (OTA), the predominate mycotoxin found in coffee beans, is carcinogenic and nephrotoxic (can cause kidney damage) (2). There have also been detrimental effects found on rat brains, although this was in levels much higher regulated quantities found in food products (3)
Since these mycotoxins can enter the food chain during storage and shipping there are already great restrictions on the mycotoxin quantities, and hefty fines to legislate against these (4). For coffee, the maximum restriction on OTA is 5ug/kg from the European Food Standards Agency. Read here from page 11, the restrictions on many food groups. In the US the FDA have a higher maximum mycotoxin limit at 20ug/kg
A survey of 60 different samples of Brazilian green beans found that although samples contained over 90% of mould contamination, only 20% contained levels above 5ug/kg (5).
This may sound slightly worrying but....
Here's the big thing, researchers in the Netherlands showed that in typical roasting conditions reduced the OTA levels by 69%! (6). They also refer to other studies that show up to 96% reduction in OTA.
Here are their results:
So if there be wary of those selling labelled 'mycotoxin free'. The reason no other coffee roaster advertises this is because there is no real issue. Selling fear is a bad strategy especially when it's not right. So relax, mycotoxin levels are controlled, by regulatory bodies and those that are present are massively reduced in the roasting process. So always look for the 'Roast by' date and enjoy your coffee worry free.