Jewel Boxes Contaminated By Aspergillus Oryzae And Occupational Risks

G. Reboux , A. Roussel , A.-P. Bellanger , M. Delaforge , L. Millon

Author address: 

Faculté de Médecine-Pharmacie, University Hospital, Besançon, France, CEA Saclay, Gyf sur Yvette, France


Introduction: In 2009, 100 000 jewel boxes coming from China were delivered, contaminated by mold, to industrial jewellery in Besançon (France). In front of the refuse of the workers to manipulate these jewel boxes, the enterprise contacted our laboratory to determine how to handle the problem: precautious decontamination of the boxes? Return to the Chinese producer? Destruction of the whole lot? Methods : Culture analysis of the boxes were made on DG18 and malt agar medium. This could not be confirmed by molecular techniques because of the genetic proximity between A. oryzae and A. flavus. Because aflatoxin production by A. oryzae is theorically possible, their presence was investigated by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS). Results: Cultures were all positive, pure and abundant, for A. oryzae. No B1, B2, G1, G2 and M1 aflatoxin was detected but the presence of other aflatoxins, whose sanitary impact is less known (P1, B2, Q1, GM2 and ethoxyaflatoxin B2) could not be eliminated in absence of uncontaminated jewel box. Ambiguous signals might result from the box manufacture components (glue, tissue, dyes). Conclusion: We conclude to a contamination, probably from Asian food products, by A. oryzae. A. oryzae is listed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but may be the source of allergic reactions such as asthma. However, this species is highly related to A. flavus which produce well-known carcinogen aflatoxins and is able to induce invasive infections. Distinguishing A. oryzae from A. flavus is critically important but may be rather tenuous as well using culture-based criteria than molecular biology. On the other hand A. oryzae is able to produce aflatoxins in case of extended fermentation and the time lapse of fungal development in the present case is not known. Finally, we did not have any certainties about the quality and conditions of the cleaning of the material, if returned to China. However, a sanitary professional risk could not be ruled out formally (possible presence of aflatoxins with unknown health’s risk), consequently the destruction of all the jewel boxes by incineration was decided.

abstract No: 


Full conference title: 

American Thoracic Society
    • ATS 2011