Mycotoxin Work at Codex Standard setting

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is an intergovernmental body of 174 member countries with a joint FAO/WHO secretariat (Codex Alimentarius, 2003a) that facilitates world trade and protects the health of the consumer by developing harmonized international standards for food. Within the CAC, the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC; Codex Alimentarius, 2003c) sets maximum limits (standards) for additives and contaminants in food, which are critical in trade conflicts. CCFAC develops standards through a risk analysis process that follows the general Codex Procedural Manual and the Codex General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food. Discussion papers on all relevant aspects of a food contaminant are requested when there is reason to expect health concerns or trade problems, followed by proposals for maximum levels when all the necessary requirements for standard setting have been met.

Mycotoxin standards are set at the international level by the Codex Alimentarius. CAC through CCFAC and relevant commodity committees has established the first international guidelines for various mycotoxins based on risk assessments performed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Recommended maximum levels for mycotoxins in various foods and feeds are determined by the CCFAC and eventually adopted by the CAC, both of whom base their work on the JECFA recommendations. The 56th meeting of JECFA (2001) was the last to address mycotoxins, and re-evaluated fumo-

nisins Bi, B2, B3 and B4, ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol, T-2 and HT-2. JECFA also performed a quantitative risk assessment for ochratoxin A in cereal and cereal products at the levels of 5 and 20 ng/g, and for aflatoxin M1 in milk at 0.5 and 0.05 ng/g. Thus far, the Codex Alimentarius (2005) has approved a maximum limit of 15 ng/g total aflatoxins in peanuts intended for further processing; a maximum limit of 0.5 ng/g for aflatoxin M1 in milk, and a maximum limit of 50 ng/g for patulin in apple juice. The CCFAC also has devoted considerable attention to developing Codes of Practice that contain both principles and practical advice (Codex Alimentarius, 2003a,b). The CCFAC has adopted:

• A revised sampling plan and maximum level for aflatoxins in peanuts intended for further processing.

• A code of practice and a maximum level for patulin in apple juice and apple juice ingredients in other beverages.

• A maximum level for aflatoxin M1 in milk.

• A code of practice for reduction of aflatoxin B1 in raw materials and supplemental feeds-tuffs for milk-producing animals.

• A code of practice for the prevention of mycotoxin contamination in cereals including annexes on ochratoxin A, zearalenone, fumonisins and trichothecenes.

The CCFAC currently is working on:

• A discussion paper and draft code of practice on aflatoxin in tree nuts.

• A discussion paper on deoxynivalenol.

• A discussion paper on a code of practice for the reduction of aflatoxin contamination in peanuts.

• A draft maximum level for ochratoxin A in raw wheat, barley and rye and derived products.

• Sampling plans for aflatoxins in maize and peanuts and draft procedures for aflatoxins in almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pistachios.

• Proposed draft maximum levels for aflatoxins in almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios.

• Proposed draft maximum levels for ochratoxin A in wine, coffee and cocoa.

• A general standard for contaminants based on risk assessment and management that will enable the incorporation of exposure assessment into the standard setting process.

The Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling has work in progress on QA that is important for mycotoxin analysis including:

• Draft general guidelines on sampling.

• Draft guidelines on measurement uncertainty.

• Working instructions for the implementation of the criteria approach and the consequential amendment to the general criteria for the selection of methods of analysis using the criteria approach.

• A recommendation to adopt the IUPAC harmonized guidelines for single-laboratory validation of methods of analysis.

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