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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Sep;389(1):147-57. Epub 2007 May 17.

Regulations relating to mycotoxins in food: perspectives in a global and European context.

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  • 1Laboratory for Food and Residue Analysis, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


Regulations relating to mycotoxins have been established in many countries to protect the consumer from the harmful effects of these compounds. Different factors play a role in the decision-making process of setting limits for mycotoxins. These include scientific factors, for example the availability of toxicological data and occurrence data, detailed knowledge about possibilities for sampling and analysis, and socio-economic issues. By the end of 2003, approximately 100 countries (covering approximately 85% of the world's inhabitants) had specific regulations or detailed guidelines for mycotoxins in food. The regulations were related to aflatoxins (B(1), B(2), G(1) and G(2)), aflatoxin M(1), trichothecenes (deoxynivalenol, diacetoxyscirpenol, T-2 toxin and HT-2 toxin), fumonisins (B(1), B(2), and B(3)), agaric acid, ergot alkaloids, ochratoxin A, patulin, phomopsins, sterigmatocystin, and zearalenone. In Europe, and in particular in the EU, regulatory and scientific interest in mycotoxins has undergone a development in the last decade from autonomous national activity towards more EU-driven activity with a structural and network character. Harmonized EU limits now exist for 40 mycotoxin-food combinations. It is expected this number will grow in 2007 to approximately 50. The direct or indirect influence of European organizations and programs on the EU mycotoxin regulatory developments is significant. They include the European Food Safety Authority, the Scientific Cooperation on Questions relating to Food, the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, the creation of an EU Community Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins and a mandate of the EC to the European Standardization Committee in methods for analysis for mycotoxins in food. Large pan-European research and networking projects as "BioCop" and "MoniQA" are also important.

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