Effect of electron-beam irradiation on the safety and quality of Fusarium-infected malting barley

Balasubrahmanyam Kottapalli, Charlene E Wolf-Hall, Paul Schwarz
International Journal of Food Microbiology 2006 August 1, 110 (3): 224-31
Utilization of Fusarium-infected barley for malting may lead to mycotoxin production during malting and decreased malt quality. Electron-beam irradiation may prevent safety and quality defects and allow use of otherwise good quality barley. We evaluated electron-beam irradiation for preventing Fusarium growth and mycotoxin production while maintaining barley-malt quality characteristics. Four barley lots with varying deoxynivalenol (DON) concentrations were irradiated at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 kGy. Treated barley was malted in a pilot-scale malting unit. Barley and malt were analyzed for Fusarium infection (FI), germinative energy (GE), aerobic plate counts (APC), mold and yeast counts (MYC), and DON. Malt quality parameters included malt extract, soluble protein, wort color, wort viscosity, free amino nitrogen, alpha-amylase, and diastatic power. FI, APC, and MYC decreased in barley with an increase in dosage. The APC and MYC for malts from barley exposed to 8-10 kGy were slightly higher than in other malted samples indicating that irradiation-resistant microflora could flourish during malting. Barley GE significantly decreased (3-15%) at 8-10 kGy. Although irradiation had no effect on DON in raw barley, DON decreased significantly (60-100%) in finished malts prepared from treated barley (6-10 kGy). Malt quality parameters were slightly affected by electron-beam radiation. The results suggest 6-8 kGy may be effective for reducing FI in barley and DON in malt with minimal effects on malt quality.

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