Development of Physical and Optical Methods for In-shell Brazil Nuts Sorting and Aflatoxin Reduction

Fernanda Robert de Mello, Vildes Maria Scussel


Physical methods for mechanically in-shell Brazil nut sorting by color, size, density and inner deterioration were
developed to assess nut quality and reduce aflatoxin contamination. Nuts were able to be sorted by color utilizing the
standard shell chromaticity components L*, a* and b* at ranges of 31.51 to 48.64, 4.09 to 10.07 and 11.90 to 22.95,
respectively. It produced a homogeneous color batch and segregated the off-standard ones (darkest, lightest and stained).
By size sorting utilizing three oval sectioned trays with the following dimensions 40x25, 35x23 and 20x19.5 mm
[length x width] and vibration, nuts were sorted into three sizes Groups: I, II and III for large, medium and small,
respectively. Through density sorting the light nuts (shell/nut <1.5) which have inner mass reduction by fungi growth
and/or dehydration, were separated with two compressed air streams from the healthy ones. Utilizing near infrared (NIR)
spectrophotometry, the nuts inner deterioration was detected, with no need of de-shelling them at the wavelength range
of 2200 to 2500 nm. Any nut measurement detected, lower or higher than those sorting settings, was considered
off-standard and rejected. Pools of the final standard and off-standard nuts were analyzed for aflatoxins by LC-MS/MS.
No toxin was detected in the final standard batch up to the method LOQ (0.08, 0.09, 0.10 and 0.12 ?g/kg for
AFB1,AFB2, AFG1, AFG2, respectively). On the other hand, the off-standard rejected batch had 16.4 ?g/kg of AFB1.
These methods are important tools for building an in-shell Brazil nut sorting machine to assess nut quality and reduce
aflatoxin contamination.

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Journal of Agricultural Science ISSN 1916-9752 (Print) ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)

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