This model is the present official policy of most governments since most have subscribed to Codex Alimentarius. Many countries have national regulations that define the allowable contamination levels in foods, but the success of this approach depends on empowered institutions being charged with protecting the public interest and health.
The intent of this model is to provide public health and food safety for the general population, but also to protect the interests of the supply side of the equation by making the regulations achievable. Balancing these interests has been the task of the WHO/FAO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Implementation of their recommendations has required authorities to promulgate laws, and establish mechanisms for their enforcement. In the United States, for example, independent inspectors sample each batch of peanuts delivered by farmers to buying points and make measurements to determine quality, while port authorities and their proxies (certifying laboratories) operate at the international level to protect trader interests.
The regulatory model clearly burdens the suppliers of commodities with the task of assuring the quality of their product and they bear the risks of failure. If the food industry is commercial, then mycotoxin contamination can largely be prevented through pre- and post-harvest management. For example, irrigation is a powerful factor influencing the risk of preharvest fungal invasion and mycotoxin contamination. Timely harvest and rapid drying regardless of the weather conditions also reduce the mycotoxins present. The cost of management and processes to meet a regulatory standard increase progressively as the allowable limits for the toxin decrease. Providing these services requires investment and increases the cost of production which leads to a more expensive product. In developed countries, safe food is a condition that consumers take for granted. These conditions often do not prevail in developing countries. Another consequence of regulation is that it creates market barriers for producers who lack the resources to reliably meet the required standards.
Was this article helpful?