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J Anim Sci. 1992 Dec;70(12):3941-9.

Mycotoxins in foods and feeds in the United States.

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  • 1Division of Contaminants Chemistry, Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC 20204.


Mycotoxins are considered unavoidable contaminants in foods and feeds because agronomic technology has not yet advanced to the stage at which preharvest infection of susceptible crops by fungi can be eliminated. The aflatoxins have received greater attention than any of the other mycotoxins because of their demonstrated carcinogenic effects in susceptible animals and their acute toxic effects in humans. Since 1965, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has enforced regulatory limits on the concentrations of these toxins in foods and feeds involved in interstate commerce. The FDA routinely monitors the food and feed industries through compliance programs to ensure that the levels of exposure to these toxins are kept as low as practical. This report summarizes data generated from compliance programs on aflatoxins for the fiscal years 1989, 1990, and the first half of 1991. Commodities sampled included peanuts and peanut products, tree nuts, corn and corn products, cottonseed, and milk. Higher than usual levels of contamination were found in corn examined from all areas of the United States in 1989 as a result of the severe drought that affected the 1988 corn crop. The drought in parts of the South and Southeast in 1990 resulted in increased contamination in corn and peanuts from those areas. A review of the surveillance data obtained on deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin A, sterigmatocystin, penicillic acid, and patulin over the years along with available toxicological data for these mycotoxins indicated that no regulatory actions were warranted. The lack of sufficient surveillance data on other mycotoxins that occur in the United States can be attributed in part to the unavailability of reliable analytical methodology.

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