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Mycotoxins in foods in Lower Saxony (Germany): results of official control analyses performed in 2009

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In this presentation, the mycotoxin levels—as analysed by the analytical centre for mycotoxin surveillance of the state food laboratory (LAVES Braunschweig)—for approximately 500 food samples are reported. The samples were collected in the year 2009 at retail in the German federal state of Lower Saxony. Aflatoxin and ochratoxin A were analysed in dried fruits, spices, cereals and tree nuts. Ochratoxin A was detected in all samples of dried vine fruits, at levels up to 8.1 μg/kg. Aflatoxins and ochratoxin A were also found in nutmeg and curry powder: the maximum regulatory levels for aflatoxins were exceeded in 25% of the nutmeg samples. Nearly all samples of basmati rice contained aflatoxins, although at levels below the maximum regulatory level in all but one sample. Aflatoxins were also detected in about 50% of hazelnut samples, in 20% of the samples the maximum levels was exceeded (maximum 23.2 μg/kg). In contrast, aflatoxin contents in pistachios were surprisingly low. Fusarium toxins were analysed in cereals and cereal products such as flour, bread, and pasta. Deoxynivalenol (DON) was the predominant toxin found in these samples: DON was found in about 40% of the samples, although the maximum levels were not exceeded (max. 418 μg/kg). Fumonisins (FBs) and zearalenone (ZEA) were specifically analysed in maize products (snacks, flour and oil). Most of these samples (80%) were positive, but at levels not exceeding the maximum levels. Maximum levels were 98 μg/kg (ZEA) and 577 μg/kg (sum of FB1 and FB2). Ergot alkaloids (six major alkaloids) were analysed in rye flour, and approximately 50% were positive. The highest concentration of ergot alkaloids was 1,063 μg/kg; the predominant alkaloids were ergotamine and ergocristine. In conclusion, the results indicate that continuous and efficient control measures for mycotoxins in a wide range of critical foods are necessary to ensure compliance with maximum levels. Although the mycotoxin levels in the vast majority of samples were below maximum levels, year-to-year variation and changes in the production of relevant commodities may result in a different picture in the future.

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We thank I. Bartels, B. Beinling, G. Goda, M. Hennel, B. Kania, S. Müller, D. Smy-Volkert and C. Starke kindly for the excellent technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Lilli Reinhold.

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Reinhold, L., Reinhardt, K. Mycotoxins in foods in Lower Saxony (Germany): results of official control analyses performed in 2009. Mycotox Res 27, 137–143 (2011).

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