Dried fruit is fruit that is preserved by removing the original water content naturally, through sun drying or artificially, by the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators. Dried fruit has a long tradition of use dating back to the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia and is prized because of its sweet taste, nutritive value and long shelf life. Traditional dried fruits such as raisins, figs, dates, apricots and prunes have been a staple of Mediterranean diets for millennia. The Mediterranean region is very favourable for production of dried fruits, not only with its climatic conditions, but also its exceptional fertile lands. Additionally, proximity to trade routes historically has allowed Mediterranean countries more access to dried fruits than landlocked countries. Today, dried fruit consumption is widespread. Nearly half of the dried fruits sold throughout the world are raisins, followed by dates, prunes (dried plums), figs, apricots, peaches, apples and pears. Dates, prunes, apricots, figs and raisins are the major dried fruits produced in the Mediterranean area. Dried fruits are not perishable but can support mold growth, some of which can produce mycotoxins. Occurence of toxigenic molds and mycotoxins on these dried fruits can be a problem in the Mediterranean basin, as in the other parts of the world, being a health hazard to the population as well as a trade issue for the export of local products. Although the most important mycotoxins occuring in Mediterranean crops are aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1 and G2) and ochratoxin A, the type and level of mycotoxins and toxigenic molds vary by crop and also by country and in some cases geographic location within a country. In this review mycotoxin risks and toxigenic fungi in date, prune and dried apricot among Mediterranean crops are reported and discussed.
dried fruit; aflatoxin; ochratoxin A; Aspergillus; date; apricot; prune