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4-Year Surveillance for Mycotoxins – Sampling and Analysis

Premier Analytical Services
Start date
End date

The sampling is the first part of an interdependent project and will provide retail samples available to UK consumers comprising of a variety of foods to support the final year of a four-year surveillance programme investigating the occurrence of mycotoxins in foods.

Each sample collected will consist of packs/loose quantities of the same product to give a total of 1.5kg/litre for each sample. Documentation for each sample will provide a clear audit trail that will be verified by relevant details recorded on an Excel spreadsheet. Relevant sample information will be transferred onto an European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) formatted database. Premier Analytical Services will analyse 400 samples for citrinin (100 samples), alternaria toxins (100 samples), fumonisins (100 samples), sterigmatocystin (100 samples) and ergot alkaloids (100 samples) depending on the likelihood of contamination. Any samples with mycotoxins above the agreed action limit will be reported within one working day of the initial result by telephone or e-mail, giving full details of the sample and result. The initial result will be confirmed subsequently by further analysis and reported in full to the FSA by email when the result is confirmed.

The data collected from the survey will be submitted to EFSA as part of their continuous call for data on mycotoxins. The data will also be added to an Food Safety Information Sheet and published to the FSA website. The project will also provide valuable evidence when negotiating new MLs at commission working great meetings.

More information

Background: Mycotoxins are naturally-occurring chemicals produced by certain fungi. Some of these mycotoxins have been associated with a variety of adverse human health effects, and are regulated within the European Union to minimise consumer exposure through food. Mycotoxins can occur in a wide range of foods, including cereals, nuts, spices, fruit, coffee, milk and alcoholic beverages, and at any stage throughout the food chain. The Food Standards Agency has commissioned a four-year rolling surveillance programme to quantify a number of mycotoxins in a variety of foods.

The aims of the programme are:
  • to protect consumer safety
  • to assess the effectiveness of current legislation and codes of practice
  • to facilitate informed negotiations with other EU members states and at other international meetings on both current and proposed policy
  • to enable consumer exposure assessments to be made
  • to identify emerging areas of concern, for example identification of mycotoxins for which there is limited occurrence data or foods not previously recognised as commodities affected by mycotoxins
Funding Source
Food Standards Agency
Project source
View this project
Project number
Natural Toxins