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Surveillance of retail cereal-based foods and drinks demonstrates that mycotoxins can survive during food processing, thus representing a food safety concern. Food processing is the last defense step to prevent mycotoxin contamination in foods for human consumption. Therefore, it is with great urgency to develop strategies to prevent mycotoxin contamination during food processing. Deoxynivalenol (DON), a mycotoxin produced by Fusarium the field, has been found with the greatest frequency and at the highest levels in the food. For example, malting companies have set up safety standards to procure brewing grains with DON level below 1 mg/g. However, there are occasionally samples (< 1 mg/g) that exhibit aberrant behavior, where DON levels increase significantly during malting, especially in "bad crop year". Preventing mycotoxin contamination in malts is even more important to the growing craft industry because it must utilize percentage of locally produced grains by definition. Our recent studies have demonstrated that DON inhibitory efficacy of flavor oil (FO) nanoemulsions was considerably improved over that of bulk FOs. Still, the low efficacy of FO and potential negative flavor impact on the finished foods restrain their application in food as natural preservatives. We hypothesize that it is the nonvolatile fractionation of FO rather than the volatile ones which dominates their mycotoxin inhibitory efficacy. As such, the overall goal of this research proposal is to understand the mode of actions of FO and its fractionations based nanoemulsions and FO nanoemulsion-grain-fungi interactions for control of mycotoxin contamination during cereal-based food processing. The lack of consistency and efficacy of FOs as natural preservatives could be accomplished by fractionating the whole FO into volatile-rich and nonvolatile-rich portions with a constant and reproducible composition, or by mixing of high efficacy of FO fractionations to consistently achieve a desired level of mycotoxin inhibitory activity. To accomplish this goal, we propose a transdisciplinary approach encompassing expertise in the field of nanotechnology, food chemistry, flavor chemistry, plant sciences and biology of cereal fungal pathogens. A top-down experimental design will be used to understand the MOA of FO at the precise molecular level. The identification of fungal hypha in single grain kernel locations allow us to understand the FO nanoemulsion-grain-fungi interactionTo ensure the success of this goal, we proposed a transdisciplinary approach encompassing expertise in the field of food science, biochemistry, microbiology, plant sciences, plant pathology as outlined below.1. Development of structure-function relationships of fractionated flavor oil nanoemulsions2. Antifungal and mycotoxin inhibitory efficacy of nanoemulsions in cereal grains3. Demonstration of practical utility of nanoemulsions for mycotoxin mitigation during the malting processing

Rao, Jiajia
North Dakota State University
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