Many people seem to get sick when eating quinoa. Mycotoxin may be the missing link. This website has seen many comments about allergy to quinoa for example, yet I highly doubt that what they are experiencing is a quinoa allergy, as much as quinoa may be making them sick.
Katherine Kohl left the following comment, which looks interesting and is well worth further investigation. Unfortunately she is not specific about the specific types of mycotoxin.
Quinoa can have mycotoxin that occur during the growth of fungi on the quinoa crop in the field or in the storage. This may be what causes such severe reactions in many people who try quinoa. Quinoa would not appear moldy to the consumer. It is the product of the mold, the mycotoxins that would remain in the quinoa, of which 3 different mycotoxins have been identified in quinoa in the scientific literature. The mycotoxin content would increase if the plants are stressed with drought as has been occurring in quinoa growing areas. There is no testing done on Quinoa for mycotoxins and the consumer would have no way of knowing which batch of quinoa might be containing these mycotoxins. Testing for mycotoxins in grain or grain like food is usually done for animal feed. The medical profession is in a learning phase of mycotoxins and mycotoxin poisoning caused by mycotoxins in food such as rye, corn, coffee beans, quinoa are newly understood and very hard to diagnose as this is a new field in science. However one of the most common mycotoxins is one the is the most carcinogenic molecule known.
Liver cancer and stomach cancer increase in populations that eat products made from these, often products made in poor countries in conditions that can encourage growth of the fungi that produce these mycotoxins. You would not see mold on your quinoa. Mycotoxins are toxins produced by the fungi and would occur far before you receive your quinoa which will look entirely normal.
Due to the vast new popularity of Quinoa for human consumption as a “super food”, it would be important that testing be required for mycotoxins in the quinoa, much as many animal feeds require testing. 3 mycotoxin producing fungi are found in quinoa. This is a serious issue as they can cause acute poisoning but they also can cause long term damage such as cancer of the liver which would not be known for years and there would be no clear link as the people eating quinoa as a new great super food are not located in one region. Thus it is important for the food industry and governments to establish end product quinoa testing for mycotoxins as a standard procedure in the production for consumer food. This is not a simple, issue, it does not matter how much you like quinoa, these mycotoxins are found in quinoa and this probably relates to the many incidents where people have severe reactions to quinoa that have been wrongly attributed to saponin but occur in quinoa that has been soaked overnight, rinsed multiple times and all procedures followed to remove the saponin a soap that does not cause the severe symptoms that are being reported by quinoa consumers who have eaten quinoa with no reaction then later times have very severe reactions or those that have very severe reactions on the first time. You may like quinoa but must study what illness and disease it can cause and require testing on quinoa for mycotoxins as in done in animal feed for products that are from plants that also can have had fungal growth at some point in the product cycle that caused production of mycotoxins. These mycotoxins are new to medicine, not known how to diagnose or treat for acute illness and the mycotoxins that have been found on quinoa can have long term effects of liver cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer.
This is serious and due to the massive increase in production of quinoa to supply the new huge demand, testing needs to be instituted now not in 10 years when large groups of people with a dietary history of quinoa consumption are diagnosed with cancer.
Science is always evolving to discover. These toxins are in some quinoa crops and no one at this current time has any idea which crops, or how widespread the problem is in cause of human disease. In fact if you have an acute reaction often GI as one of the mycotoxins destroys the lining of the stomach causing cell death, the emergency room would have no knowledge of this as a possible cause or of any treatment beyond supportive care. That is because it is not widely known in medicine, it is known in animals as it was the problem of mycotoxins in feed but unknown was only discovered in a huge death of turkeys in 1969. Its a new science, before the main mycotoxin known was from eating poised mushrooms by those who went and picked wild mushrooms which they mistakenly thought were not deadly. That mushroom poisoning usually causes death or the need for liver transplant but at least it is a known cause of disease in both the public and medical profession and will be discovered in the medical history taking of the ill person. Quinoa containing mycotoxin or other foods that can contain mycotoxin are not part of regular medical history taking yet.
Work to have testing required so that you can enjoy quinoa if you choose. You have no way of knowing otherwise, being “organic” does not protect you, and the huge surge in consumption has caused a 12 fold surge in production increasing the likelihood of crops of quinoa containing these mycotoxins. Demand testing and send your quinoa for testing if you become acutely ill or develop a lower grade illness or later cancer. People take very seriously the mycotoxins produced by mold in housing, in walls, under wet or moist carpets or in wood dry rot or any mold, it does not matter if it is a mycotoxin producing species, people know and are very worried about this in their housing. They should also be very worried about it in their food.
If you have any further ideas or expertise in this area, please leave a comment.