Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins in Food and Feed NRL

Fera is the UK National Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins in Food and Feed. Fera has extensive knowledge in the analysis of mycotoxins in food, feed and food crops.

Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins in Food and Feed NRL

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by some moulds. They can occur in a wide range of foods, often with no visible signs of mould spoilage to the food. They have a wide range of chemical properties and toxicities to humans and food-producing animals. Exposure to some mycotoxins is controlled through European and National Legislation.

The toxins studied include trichothecenes, ochratoxin, aflatoxins and ergot alkaloids. Fera has carried out many research projects and surveillance exercises for the UK Food Standards Agency, The EU and commercial customers. Training courses in mycotoxin analysis are regularly organised and run.

Sweetcorn

EU-RL Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins

The EU-RL for Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins aims to facilitate the implementation of European legislation related to monitoring of mycotoxins and plant toxins in food of plant origin and animal feed. RIKILT Wageningen University & Research is the EURL for mycotoxins & plant toxins in food and feed, effective from March 1, 2018.

EU-RL Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins website


European Legislation

The Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2013 make enforcement measures provision for European Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006, setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs and Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 prescribes the methods to be used for sampling and analysis for enforcement purposes. There are similar Regulations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Copies of the EU Regulations, and those of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are available from the Food Standards Agency.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (as amended) stipulates maximum levels of certain mycotoxins in foodstuffs. Mycotoxins specifically covered are: aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1 and G2, and M1), ochratoxin A, patulin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins B1 and B2 and citrinin. In addition, maximum levels are set for ergot sclerotia.



European Legislation

Relevant Regulations

Aflatoxins

Commission Regulations (EC) No 1881/2006 and Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 and their amendments, set maximum limits and lay down methods for sampling and analysis respectively.

Regulation (EU) No 165/2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs as regards aflatoxins.

Regulation (EU) No 178/2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 as regards groundnuts (peanuts), other oilseeds, tree nuts, apricot kernels, liquorice and vegetable oil.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 884/2014 provides the overarching legislation which allows the introduction of emergency measures for import conditions for certain consignments (including for use as feed) from some third countries due to aflatoxin contamination issues. These Regulations are amended as required to add new products or remove products as situations change.

Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 (and amendments) sets out requirements for increased official controls. Annex I gives the list of products, country of origin; hazards; and frequency of checks to be carried out. Annex I is reviewed at least every six months.

Guidance document for competent authorities for the control of compliance with EU Regulations on aflatoxins is available here:

Ochratoxin A

Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (and its amendments) set maximum limits for ochratoxin A in certain foods, including cereals, dried fruit, some spices, liquorice, wine, grape juice, coffee and infant foods. Methods for sampling and analysis for ochratoxin A are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 (and its amendment Commission Regulation (EU) No 178/2010).

The UK Food Standards Agency has published a Code of Practice on Good Storage to reduce Ochratoxin A in cereals here.

Sweetcorn and Flour Cropped

Patulin

Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (and its amendments) set maximum limits for patulin in fruit juices, spirit drinks and cider, apple products (juice, puree, compote), and baby foods and apple juice and apple products sold for infants and young children.

Methods for sampling and analysis for patulin are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 401/2006.

Commission Recommendation (2003/598/EC) on the prevention and reduction of patulin contamination in apple juice and apple juice ingredients in other beverages. Information can be found here that gives you details on the prevention and reduction of patulin contamination in apple juice and apple juice ingredients in other beverages.

Fusarium toxins

Maximum limits for some Fusarium toxins (deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins B1 & B2) are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006. Limits for T2 & HT2 toxin are not set, but are currently under discussion. Sampling and methods of analysis are laid down in Commission Regulation (EU) No 178/2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 401/2006.

Commission Recommendation 2006/583/EC of 17 August 2006 provides advice and recommendations on the prevention and reduction of Fusarium toxins in cereals and cereal products.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have evaluated several of the main Fusarium toxins, including deoxynivalenol, zearalenone and T-2 and HT-2 toxins. More detailed information can be found here.

Nuts Cropped

Food Standards Agency

Information on Mycotoxins for industry and enforcement bodies including sampling advice, special import conditions and Codes of Practice to prevent mycotoxins can be found here.

Information about legislation for plant toxins and guidance on cyanide in apricot kernels and opium alkaloids in poppy seeds can be found here.

Directorate-General SANTE – Health and Food Safety

Directorate-General SANTE – Health and Food Safety, this Commission department is responsible for EU policy on food safety and health. The website gives more information on the work of DG SANTE, covering topics such as the RASFF system, animal feed and novel foods.

The Chemical Safety Contaminants Catalogue gives more information about mycotoxins and plant toxins, can be found here.


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