Initially, orchards where processed fruit contains patulin will be identified. The practices in these orchards will then be compared with those in orchards where patulin problems are not found. This work will involve the development of artificial media to aid the isolation and identification of penicillium species from the orchards and fruit stores. The direct effect of fungicides on penicillium in culture will be examined to see which ones control the growth of the fungus, and to establish whether they have any direct effect on the level of patulin production. This will be measured by a laboratory assay developed as part of the project.
Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by the fungus Penicillium expansum, which has been shown to have mutagenic properties. Patulin can be present in pressed apple juice and there is an advised maximum level of 50 parts per billion (ppb). In some cases batches of apple juice may exceed this threshold and have to be discarded.
This research project was undertaken to find out if there is a relationship between farm practices in orchards, and patulin levels occurring in fruit from those orchards when it is processed. If a connection is found between fungicide usage and patulin occurrence then advice can be given on reducing the risk.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food
Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.