Occurrence and toxicity of zearalenone

Zearalenone also is produced by Fusarium spp., most notably F. graminearum. This myco-toxin has been detected in food commodities from several in Eastern and Southern Africa (Table 4). Concentrations of up to 10 ^g/g have been reported in samples originating from the Transkei region of South Africa (Marasas et al., 1979).

The major effects of zearalenone are estrogenic and mostly affect the urogenital system. In experimental animals the effects are similar to those produced by excessive steroid-al estrogen intake, a condition known as hyperestrogenism (Nelson et al., 1994; Desjardins, 2006). This condition can lead to the development of female characteristics in pre-pubescent male pigs. Zearalenone has been implicated in some incidents of precocious puberty changes in children (Saenz de Rodriguez, 1984; Kuiper-Goodman, 1987).

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