Oats are often touted for boosting heart health, but scientists warn that the grain and its products might need closer monitoring for potential mold contamination.
A report in American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that some oat-based breakfast cereals in the United States contain a mold-related toxin called ochratoxin A (OTA) that's been linked to kidney cancer in animal studies.
The findings could have implications for consumer health.
Dojin Ryu and Hyun Jung Lee note that OTA is one of the most common toxic products released by molds in the world.
Previous studies have found the toxin in samples of pork, dried fruits, wine, coffee and other products.
Scientists don't yet know how the toxin affects human health, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classifies it as a possible human carcinogen.
On the basis of analysis of 500 samples of breakfast cereals, the researchers conclude that oat production, storage and processing need careful review to better protect consumer health.