Aflatoxins in food
http://www.teatronaturale.com/article/790.htmlby S. C.
are mycotoxins produced by two species of Aspergillus, a fungus which is
especially found in areas with hot and humid climates. Since aflatoxins are
known to be genotoxic and carcinogenic, exposure through food should be kept
as low as possible.
Aflatoxins can occur in foods, such as groundnuts, treenuts, maize, rice,
figs and other dried foods, spices and crude vegetable oils, and cocoa beans,
as a result of fungal contamination before and after harvest.
Several types of aflatoxins are produced in nature. Aflatoxin B1 is the most
common in food and amongst the most potent genotoxic and carcinogenic
aflatoxins. It is produced both by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus
parasiticus. Aflatoxin M1 is a major metabolite of aflatoxin B1 in humans and
animals, which may be present in milk from animals fed with aflatoxin B1
EU regulatory framework
The European Union introduced measures to minimise the presence of aflatoxins
in different foodstuffs. Maximum levels of aflatoxins are laid down in
Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006. Products exceeding the maximum
levels should not be placed on the market in the EU. Directive 2002/32/EC
lays down maximum levels for aflatoxins B1 in feed materials.
Methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of mycotoxins,
including aflatoxins, are laid down in Commission Regulation No 401/2006.
This ensures that the same sampling criteria intended for the control of
mycotoxin content in food are applied to the same products by the competent
authorities throughout the EU and that certain performance criteria, such as
recovery and precision, are fulfilled.
In 2008, the Codex Alimentarius set a maximum level of 10 µg/kg total
aflatoxins in ready-to-eat almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios at a level
higher than that currently in force in the EU (4 µg/kg total aflatoxins).
Currently the European Commission and Member States are discussing the
alignment of EU legislation for these nuts with the Codex Alimentarius
decision. In addition, discussions will take place to align the new proposed
maximum levels for all tree nuts.
by S. C.
09 July 2009 TN 6 Year 1