The analyses, developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), will ensure that laboratories across the globe to are able to synchronise their working practices when testing for the contaminants. The methods were named as the yardstick tests by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).
The methods were developed to measure aflatoxin B1 and zearalenone mycotoxins in cereal products for infants and young children. These lab tests, created under the leadership of Dr J. Stroka of the EU Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins at the JRC’s Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) came into force as national standards this month.
Carcinogen “The adoption of these two methods as international standards will enable laboratories around the world to measure mycotoxin levels in infant food in a harmonised manner, helping to ensure the access to safe and healthy foodstuffs for one of society's most vulnerable groups,” said Krzysztof Maruszewski, director of JRC-IRMM.
Mycotoxins are contaminants produced by fungi, which enter the food chain through infected crops that are either consumed directly by humans or indirectly as a result of their being an animal feed ingredient. Dietary aflatoxins, a major global concern because of their toxicity, are common contaminants of cereals and nuts. Aflatoxin B, designated as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is the most frequent type of the contaminant, estimated to be present in 60-80 per cent of tainted samples.
The JRC said the analyses were significant because of the relative vulnerability of infants to mycotoxins because of their relatively high intake of food products in relation to their bodyweight. The body said its development of quality assurance tools helps labs meet EU regulations on ensuring contaminants in foods do not exceed maximum limits.