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Risk Asessment and Intervention Strategies for the Emerging Food Safety Threat of Ochratoxin in the United States


<p>The long-term goal of our research is to address the emerging threat of OTA contamination in the food supply. The goal of this study is to assess the risks of foodborne OTA in the U.S., and to provide effective technical and economic measures to reduce the risk of exposure to OTA in foods. We propose to achieve the goals by pursuing four specific objectives below. </p>
<p>1) Optimization and verification of methods for detecting and quantifying OTA in foods to obtain reliable data in varying types of food matrices. </p>
<p>2) Determination of OTA concentrations and the presence of toxigenic fungi in foods with a comprehensive national survey utilizing analytical methods established in Objective 1 and a mycological analysis. </p>
<p>3) Risk assessment of foodborne OTA exposure to the general public and high-risk populations including infants. </p>
<p>4) Development of strategies to reduce OTA exposure from the food supply through examination of current postharvest practices. We expect to improve existing analytical methods to detect OTA and generate comprehensive data sets on the occurrence of OTA and its producers in the U.S. food supply. This information will lead to an assessment of risks associated with this emerging food safety threat. </p>
<p>The expected outcome of the risk assessment is that certain subpopulations of pregnant women in the U.S. consume levels of OTA that may cause teratogenic effects in children. It is expected that levels of exposure depend on diet and geography, as determined by the sampling portion of our research. This study will also develop practical strategies to reduce exposure from OTA in food supply in the U.S.</p>

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<p>NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: <br/>Several toxigenic fungi in the genus Aspergillus and Penicillium are known to contaminate agricultural crops and produce ochratoxin A (OTA), a possible human carcinogen. While OTA has been associated with nephropathic diseases in animals and humans, its nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic, immunosuppressive, mutagenic, and teratogenic potency has been shown in animal studies. Due to the diverse growth characteristics, the toxigenic fungi and OTA have been found in exceptionally wide variety of agricultural commodities worldwide including cereal grains, nuts, dried fruits, spices, meat, milk, and many processed foods made from these commodities including wine, beer, infant formula and baby foods. Most studies on OTA in food have been conducted in European countries where OTA levels are regulated. Currently, no regulation for OTA in foods has been set in the
U.S. and there is an urgent need for up-to-date information on the incidence and levels of OTA as the international trade of agricultural products has been increased dramatically to meet the changing consumer demand. We propose this project to provide data on the emerging OTA issues by comprehensive national survey followed by health risk assessment of foodborne OTA for general public and high-risk population. We will also investigate effective strategies to reduce the exposure of public from OTA.

<p>APPROACH:<br/>As the physical and chemical characteristics of food matrices vary significantly, e.g. from cereal grains to meats, detection methods for OTA in each commodity will be optimized and verified in multiple laboratories (Objective 1). A nationwide survey will be conducted with collaborators to include all known and potential commodities of domestic and foreign origin that may be contaminated with OTA (Objective 2). For the survey, each collaborating laboratory will determine occurrence of OTA in the samples with their expertise and experience in working with the commodities. The commodities to be analyzed include wheat, barley, coffee, wine, beer, milk, infant formula, dried fruits, and nuts. Based on the data collected from this survey, a multi-factorial exposure and risk assessment will be carried out for the general public and for high-risk populations,
i.e. pregnant women and infants (Objective 3). Then, current food supply chain and production technologies will be examined to develop strategies to reduce or eliminate exposure of human from OTA contamination in foods. Risk management based on HACCP concept and investigation on current food processing technologies will also be included during the development of strategies (Objective 4).

<p>PROGRESS: 2012/12 TO 2013/12
<p>Target Audience: Nothing Reported Changes/Problems: Felicia Wu (Co-PD) started her new position at Michigan State University in Fall 2013. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? PD (Ryu) and Co-PD (Palumbo) presented their findings at the Gordon Research Conference on Mycotoxins & Phycotoxins in 2013. The results from the works accomplished were also published in peer reviewed journals. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Complete the second year national survey of ochratoxin A in foods.

Wu, Felicia; Wolf-Hall, Charlene; Stratton, Jayne; Ryu, Dojin ; Palumbo, Jeffrey; Jackson, Lauren S; Cappozzo, Jack C; Bianchini, Andreia
University of Idaho
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