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Mycotoxins NRL

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

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.

EU-RL Mycotoxins

The EU-RL for Mycotoxins aims to facilitate the implementation of European legislation related to monitoring of mycotoxins in food of plant origin and animal feed. Under Regulation (EC) No 776/2006 the European Union Reference Laboratory (EU-RL) for Mycotoxins is the Joint Research Centre (JRC) Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) in Geel, Belgium.

EU-RL Mycotoxins 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.

Section 2 of the Annex of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (as amended by (EC) No 1126/2007) 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, and fumonisins B1 and B2.

Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 implementing Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 as regards the increased level of official controls on imports of certain feed and food of non-animal origin was published in July 2009. This EC Regulation will be implemented in England by The Official Feed and Food Control (England) Regulations 2009, which came into force on 25 January 2010 and revoked the 2007 Regulations. It stipulates the frequency of checks that are required for some products at the designated point of entry.

Aflatoxins

Regulations (EC) No 1881/2006 and Commission Regulation (EU) No 178/2010 of 2 March 2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 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. 274/2012 of 27 March 2012 amends Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1152/2009 imposing special conditions governing the import of certain foodstuffs from certain third countries due to contamination risk by aflatoxins. More information from the FSA surrounding this amendment is available and includes specified products, designated points of import (DPIs) and guidance.

Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1058/2012 of 12 November 2012 amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels for aflatoxins in dried figs.

A Guidance Document for Competent Authorities for the Control of Compliance with EU Regulations for aflatoxins is available at: EUROPA > European Commission > DG Health and Consumers > Overview > Food and Feed Safety > Chemical Safety > Contaminants > Aflatoxins

Guidance document for competent authorities for the control of compliance with EU legislation on aflatoxins

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 91/2013 of 31st January 2013 laying down specific conditions applicable to the import of groundnuts from Ghana and India, okra and curry leaves from India and watermelon seeds from Nigeria and amending Regulations (EC) No 669/2009 and (EC) No 1152/2009 came into force on 18th February 2013.

Ochratoxin A

Regulations (EC) No 1881/2006 and Commission Regulation (EU) No 178/2010 amending (EC) No 401/2006 lay down limits for certain foods and methods for sampling and analysis. Regulation 1881/2006 has been amended by Commission Regulation (EU) No. 594/2012 - it gives a longer date for Capsicum sp. to comply with the lower ochratoxin A limit, and also introduces a limit for wheat gluten not to be sold directly to the public.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 105/2010 of 5 February 2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 shall apply from 1 July 2010. It sets maximum limits for ochratoxin A in certain spices and liquorice.

Commission Regulation (EU) No. 594/2012 of 5 July 2012amending Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 as regards the maximum levels of the contaminants ochratoxin A, non dioxin-like PCBs and melamine in foodstuffs.

EFSA Statement on recent scientific information on the toxicity of Ochratoxin A
Published: 4 June 2010

The results of a Scientific Co-operation Task to assess dietary intake for Ochratoxin A published in 2002 are given in Task 3.2.7.: EUROPA > European Commission > DG Health and Consumers > Overview > Food and Feed Safety > Chemical Safety > Contaminants > Ochratoxin A "Assessment of dietary intake of ochratoxin A by the population of EU Member States"

Patulin

Regulations (EC) No 1881/2006 and Commission Regulation (EU) No 178/2010 amending (EC) No 401/2006 set maximum limits and lay down methods for sampling and analysis respectively.

Information on the prevention and reduction of patulin contamination in apple juice and apple juice ingredients in other beverages is given in Commission Recommendation 2003/598/EC ((OJ L 203, 12.8.2003, p. 34): EUROPA > European Commission > DG Health and Consumers > Overview > Food and Feed Safety > Chemical Safety > Contaminants > Patulin.

An assessment of the dietary intake of patulin by the population of EU Member States was carried out as a Scientific Co-operation Task and was published in 2002: Assessment of dietary intake of Patulin by the population of EU Member States. EUROPA > European Commission > DG Health and Consumers > Overview > Food and Feed Safety > Chemical Safety > Contaminants > Patulin

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.

The maximum levels in maize and maize products, as well as the date of application of these levels were amended by the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1126/2007 adopted in September 2007. This takes account of new information obtained since 2005.

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.(EUROPA > European Commission > DG Health and Consumers > Overview > Food and Feed Safety > Chemical Safety > Contaminants > Fusarium -Toxins)

The results of a Scientific Co-operation Task to assess occurrence and dietary intake for Fusarium toxins were published in 2003: Collection of occurrence data of Fusarium toxins in food and assessment of dietary intake by the population of EU Member States.

EU-RL Mycotoxins

Regulation (EC) No. 776/2006 nominates the Joint Research Centre as the European Union Reference Laboratory (EU-RL) for Mycotoxins and it is established at the JRC Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM).

Food Standards Agency

Mycotoxins guidance and advice for industry and enforcement bodies. This includes Codes of Good Agricultural Practice and Good Storage Practice.

The Food Standards Agency has produced a document to provide information on the legislation for mycotoxins and advice on official methods for sampling for certain mycotoxins: Mycotoxins in foodstuffs sampling advice.

Directorate General Health and Consumers

The EUROPA European Commission, DG Health and Consumers ensures that food and consumer goods sold in the EU are safe, that the EU's internal market works for the benefit of consumers and that Europe helps protect and improve its citizens' health. Work is in collaboration with other EU Institutions, national governments and agencies, consumer organisations, health interest groups, business groups, scientists, researchers and experts.

DG Health & Consumers, Food & Feed Safety website has information about mycotoxins covering: aflatoxins, patulin, ochratoxin A and Fusarium toxins.

EU-RL Method Validation Studies (MVS)

Ochratoxin A in Liquorice: the EU-RL Mycotoxins organised this method validation study. Samples are extracted with a mixture of methanol and sodium bicarbonate solution. The solution is filtered, diluted and cleaned up by immunoaffinity column. Quantification is by HPLC with fluorescence detection.

Twenty laboratories from around the world participated. Ochratoxin A content ranged from 26 to 141 μg/kg for liquorice extracts and from 8 to 52 μg/kg for liquorice root. Mean recoveries were 87% for liquorice root and 84 to 88% for liquorice extracts.

The method performance criteria in Commission Regulation (EC) No. 401/2006 were extended by analogy to the levels of interest for this study and were met by this method for both liquorice root and liquorice extract. Therefore the method is fit for purpose for testing samples for compliance with Commission Regulation (EU) No. 105/2010.

The link to the final report of the study (EUR 24778 EN) includes a copy of the method description as Annex 6.