Regional distribution and diversity of Aspergillus and Penicillium species on Croatian traditional meat products

Manuela Zadravec*, Tina Lešić, Dragan Brnić, Jelka Pleadin, Bart Kraak, Željko Jakopović, Irena Perković, Nada Vahčić, Vesna Jaki Tkalec, Jos Houbraken*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Various factors, such as weather and production practices (e.g., environmental hygiene, process duration, raw material quality, ripening temperature, and relative humidity), in combination with the intrinsic product properties (e.g., pH, aw, salt content), significantly affect the growth of surface moulds. The aim of this study was to isolate and identify surface moulds retrieved from traditional meat products (TMPs) and correlate these data to the production region and production technology. The surface of 250 TMPs (dry-fermented sausages, n = 108; dry-cured meat products, n = 142) from five Croatian regions were sampled during a two-year period. Dry-fermented sausages had a significantly higher pH and a lower salt concentration when compared to dry-cured meat products. In total, 528 isolates were obtained, comprising 20 Penicillium and 17 Aspergillus species. The species most frequently isolated from the dry-fermented sausages were P. commune (32.4 %), A. proliferans (33 %), and P. solitum (14.8 %), while A. proliferans (52.1 %), P. commune (28.9 %) and P. citrinum (19.7 %) predominated in dry-cured meat products. Aspergillus predominated on the TMPs from southern Croatia, while Penicillium was prevalent on products from the other four regions, possibly due to differences in weather conditions. Seven potentially mycotoxigenic species (A. creber, A. flavus, A. niger, A. westerdijkiae, P. citrinum, P. commune, and P. nordicum) were isolated and identified. Regular monitoring of mould species and their toxigenic metabolites present on traditional meat products is of the utmost importance from the public health perspective, while the results of such a monitoring can prove beneficial for the tailoring of the production technology development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110404
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 02 Dec 2023


  • Dry-cured meat
  • Genes responsible for mycotoxin production
  • Geographical region
  • Moulds species
  • Production technology
  • Sausages


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