Food agency communicates on mycotoxins

Related tags European union World trade organization

Europe comes closer to rubber stamping harmonised controls for
controlling mycotoxins in the food chain and the Scottish food
agency offers stakeholders a snapshot of recent talks.

A group of scientific experts met up in October under the umbrella of Europe's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (CCFAC), to discuss a way forward for tighter rules on range of mycotoxins.

Under the spotlight, informs the Scottish food agency in a letter this week, were aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, fusarium toxins, zearalenone, and deoxynivalenol.

Mycotoxins in food are produced by fungal contaminants and are often genotoxic carcinogens. Since ancient times these substances, produced by moulds that have contaminated and grown on foods, have caused sickness, and in extreme cases death, in people and farm animals. But they rest a modern day problem that the food industry must tackle on a daily basis.

It has been estimated that 25 per cent of all agricultural crops worldwide are contaminated by moulds that produce mycotoxins. The toxins are mostly found in cereals, nuts, cocoa and coffee beans, but also in other foods, like wine, dried fruits and meat, particularly when the water content/activity and the temperature are poorly controlled.

In brief, the Scottish food standards agency reports that a rule setting maximum limits for ochratoxin A in coffee products, wine and grape juice and musts has been out for WTO consultation, which ended on 31 October.

"Only two WTO member countries have commented and voiced their concerns that the rules will be extended to greencoffee, but welcomed the fact that the levels were higher that those currently being applied by one member state,"​ said the agency, that adds it was agreed to include a requirement that the Commission collate and circulate the results of the monitoring by Member States. The date of application will be 1 April 2005 and the draft regulation was adopted by qualified majority vote.

Further details about the mycotoxins pinpointed can be accessed on the FSA​ site.

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