Chapter

Mycotoxins and Food Safety

Volume 504 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 257-269

Worldwide Regulations for Mycotoxins

  • Hans P. van EgmondAffiliated withNational Institute of Public Health and the Environment Laboratory for Residue Analysis

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Abstract

Since the discovery of the aflatoxins in the 1960s, regulations have been established in many countries to protect the consumer from the harmful effects of mycotoxins that may contaminate foodstuffs. Various factors play a role in the decision-making process of setting limits for mycotoxins. These include scientific factors such as the availability of toxicological data, survey data, knowledge about the distribution of mycotoxins in commodities, and analytical methodology. Economical and political factors such as commercial interests and sufficiency of food supply have their impact as well.

International enquiry’s on existing mycotoxin legislation in foodstuffs and animal feedstuffs have been carried out several times in the 1980s and 1990s and details about tolerances, legal basis, responsible authorities, official protocols of analysis and sampling have been published. Recently a comprehensive update on worldwide regulations was published as FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 64. It appeared that at least 77 countries now have specific regulations for mycotoxins, 13 countries are known to have no specific regulations, whereas no data are available for about 50 countries, many of them in Africa. Over the years, a large diversity in tolerance levels for mycotoxins has remained. Some free trade zones (EU, MERCOSUR) are in the process of harmonizing the limits and regulations for mycotoxins in their respective member states, but it is not likely that worldwide harmonized limits for mycotoxins will soon be within reach.