As a protein denatured, it may lose its functions. So theoretically if I heat some type of biological toxins like poisonous mushroom to 100 oC or higher temperature, will I able to eat it? (I know peoples still death after eat them even boiled to 100 oC, but why?) Is there anyway to make them edible?

Update: i know some protein can survive in high temperature, for example: taq polymerase. Can i destroy it functions by boil it to higher temperature like 140-160 oC at higher atmosphere pressure and then return back to normal temperature?

Update2 : i found some information on the internet by searching keyword "toxin destroyed by heat" : http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/food-technology/bacterial-food-poisoning/

  • The botulinum toxin is destroyed by boiling the food for 10 minutes.* . So it's depend on the type of protein, the heat and time.

So is there any way/formula to predict the temperature and time to destroy a protein? Or is there any absolute temperature and time to kill most type of protein ?


2 Answers 2


Why people still die after eat them even boiled to 100 oC, but why?

Well not all toxins are protein based. Some are just small molecules that fit into some vital protein in your body, causing it to stop and death not long later. Some are cyclic peptides and are not denatured by heat. The peptide is simple, and has many carbon bonds to stablize its structure (it is a ring and has carbon bonds linking internally) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%91-amanitin

Or is there any absolute temperature and time to kill most type of protein ?

Autoclaving.. 134 °C (274 °F) for 18 minutes in a pressurized steam can destroy prions. And prions pretty tough. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prion

  • $\begingroup$ You could bit more elaborate the prion portion. $\endgroup$ Feb 7, 2017 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ Still; wikipedia page that you've linked, tells "134 °C (274 °F) for 18 minutes in a pressurized steam autoclave has been found to be somewhat effective in deactivating the agent of disease". That does not mean killing prion. $\endgroup$ Feb 7, 2017 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ then you have things like amatoxin which is a tiny little ring protein so it is highly resistant to heat. It survives normal cooking just fine. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 7, 2017 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ Prions are not alive. A prion is protein with a specific folding pattern. And when it meets another protein of the appropriate kind, it can cause the normal protein to be refolded into the pattern it has. In this way a prion propagates. It is not a protein replicating but a folding pattern that is spreading. And the folding pattern of a prion is very stable, perhaps the most stable folding patterns known to man. Because prior to the understanding of what prions were, autoclaving at 121 C, for 17 min steam was considered sufficient to denature and sterilize everything. $\endgroup$
    – JayCkat
    Feb 8, 2017 at 3:16

It completely depends upon the chemical structure of the toxin.

For example; heavy-metal containing compounds such as copper sulfate (CuSO4), heating would not work at all because even on heating, the element copper (Cu) will remain Cu.

Same about radioactive poisoning.


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