A toxin-producing mold potentially found in coffee grains can be a source of neurological disease, experts warned.
Date Posted: Nov 27, 2014

A toxin-producing mold potentially found in coffee grains can be a source of neurological disease, experts warned.


The Aspergillus is a fungal mold that produces spores which can be unknowingly breathed in by humans. Typically, these spores do not cause illness, except in individuals with low immune systems. However, experts said food such as vegetables, nuts, or even coffee may be contaminated by this mold.


Molds are typically ignored in food unless visible to the naked eye, said microbiologist Dr. Windell Rivera.


“Usually kapag merong clump or cluster of molds sa isang material, makikita natin yun, pero hindi ibig sabihin pag di natin nakita yun, walang molds yung material (We usually see clumps or clusters of mold in a material. However, the absence of these clumps does not signify that there are no molds present),” he said.


The public must be cautious because some types of mold produce mycotoxins.


“Yung Aspergillus especially yung species na flavus nagproproduce ng toxin, aflatoxin, at dahil toxin ito, pwede itong mag-cause ng neurological disorder sa tao (Aspergillus, especially the species Aspergillus flavus, can produce aflatoxin that can cause neurological disorder in humans).”


According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), molds and mycotoxins can cause neurologic and neuropsychiatric symptoms including pain, delirium, and dementia.


Experts however assured that mycotoxins are not easily triggered unless exposed to stressful environments.


Experts add infections typically caused by Aspergillus do not pose highly immediate dangers and most infections may be treated by drugs administered by medical experts. But experts reiterate the need for prevention.


As coffee grains are often cooked in a coffeemaker, repeated use without constant and proper cleaning can increase chances of contamination.


Rivera adds that kitchen cleaners used on a contaminated coffee maker can become carriers of disease-causing microorganisms if sanitary measures are not observed.


“Pwedeng-pwede mangyari 'yung cross contamination kung [ang pamunas na]ginamit sa paglinis ng highly contaminated coffee maker, gamitin mo sa ibang utensils. (It is possible for cross contamination to occur whenever you use cleaners in a highly contaminated coffee maker and you reuse it in other utensils),” he said.


To avoid contracting diseases, experts advise constant cleaning of the household especially the kitchen as this could be a breeding ground of bacteria and molds. Frequent cleaning of appliances and utensils is advised. Further, kitchen cleaners must also be frequently washed to avoid cross contamination. Lastly, food must be always be thoroughly cleaned before cooking or eating to neutralize unwanted microorganisms.