Future perspectives

The many reports from Europe on food and feed contamination by fungi show that the food and feed can be colonized by many fungi with a broad range of mycotoxin production capabilities that are adapted to different environmental niches. The biodiversity of these fungal species requires a complex response from plant pathologists and that particular attention be paid to different toxicological problems related to the specific fungal contamination. The correct identification of the toxigenic fungi contaminating feeds and foods in different parts of Europe is important for studying the levels of the interaction between toxigenic fungi and host plants, and for obtaining a clear picture of the toxicological risks to humans and domesticated animals. Therefore, developing easy to use tools for the rapid identification of toxigenic fungi and the detection of mycotoxins is a major challenge for scientists working in this field. Moreover, as the profile of fungi colonizing crop plants is heavily dependent on environmental conditions, developing risk assessment models for mycotoxin contamination from data collected at numerous sites in Europe for various crops is an important goal. Finally, potential additive and/or synergistic effects and risks resulting from exposure to multiple mycotoxins need to be evaluated to determine if risks beyond those already identified need to be considered in developing management practices or setting regulatory limits for these compounds in feeds and foods.

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