This study aims to investigate the evolution, throughout the harvest season, of merchantability criteria and Ochratoxin A (OTA) levels in cocoa beans produced in Cote d'Ivoire. To this end, 567 samples of cocoa beans, collected in 6 production areas during the 2007-2008 season, were analyzed. Merchantability and OTA levels were determined respectively according to the Ivorian Coffee and Cocoa stock exchange standards and the European Community regulation related to the analytical methods for the control of mycotoxins levels in foodstuffs (EC 401/2006). Concerning merchantability, a significant difference at 5% risk was revealed between the values of moisture, graining and grades. As regards OTA levels, the concentrations obtained ranged from 0.41 µg/kg to 1.36 µg/kg of cocoa beans with an average concentration of 0.69 µg/kg. These concentrations are all below the maximum value set at 2 µg/kg by the European Commission. Moldy and/or slaty beans are chiefly answerable for the depreciation of cocoa beans marketability. These results served to devise a map summarizing the quality of Ivorian cocoa beans. Needless to say, this map is just a representation of a situation at a given time, and should therefore contribute to take up decisions relevant to the application of good production and postharvest processing practices in the country’s quest for cocoa beans of prime quality.


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