Highlights

  • What Are Mycotoxins?

  • Preventative Measures

  • The Importance of Supplier Monitoring

What Are Mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are chemicals produced in nature when molds grow on ingredients and foods. Many species of molds produce mycotoxins in different varieties of crops including:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  •  Barley
  •  Oats
  •  Rye
  •  Triticale
  •  Rice
  •  Sorghum
  •  Spices
  •  Fruits
  •  Nuts
  •  Peas
  •  Cocoa
  •  Coffee and other commodities

If a company uses these ingredients in their manufacturing process, then mycotoxins should be identified within the HACCP plan as a chemical hazard because they can cause liver and kidney cancer, digestion issues, and even death. Mycotoxins are very difficult hazards to control because they are generally heat-stable in cooking, baking and frying processes. For these reasons, most HACCP plan approaches focus on preventive control programs. 

Preventative Measures

The HACCP team should be aware that mycotoxin levels could vary widely through each crop cycle based on rainfall and crop drying conditions. Unfortunately, this means that the program you had last year may not be the same one you need this year. A good indicator of mycotoxin issues in a given year can be found by using digital tools. Tools such as Safety HUD, a software which can show mycotoxin recalls by commodity and country of origin, are a great way to monitor potential threats and hazards. For example, this crop year has resulted in multiple mycotoxin recalls in the US for pet food products due to high aflatoxin in the ingredients. Unfortunately in these cases, the mycotoxin hazards were discovered through the deaths of dogs and cats vs. preventive control programs. 

The Importance of Supplier Monitoring

Companies should have a good relationship with their ingredient suppliers. It is important to understand the mycotoxin prevention control programs they employ, such as selection of specific crop varieties that are more resistant to molds, testing for mycotoxins at receiving, and adjusting milling settings to reduce mycotoxin levels through size and density. Some suppliers use light sorting equipment to reduce the moldy grains. For companies that are unable to assess the suppliers for these preventive controls, consider hiring a 3rd party to perform targeted risk assessments for mycotoxins and other food safety hazards. Your mycotoxin preventive control program can be enhanced by testing ingredients for mycotoxins prior to use, especially at the beginning of a new crop when companies may be testing flour for quality reasons as in some baking applications.

Whether your company is shipping these commodities internationally or buying ingredients globally, your HACCP team needs to know that each country may have different limits for different mycotoxins in different foods.  The Limit Detector Software can assist companies with the regulatory requirements for mycotoxins including limits, test methods, and regulations in targeted countries. For example, the limits for mycotoxins can range from 1 ppb (µg/kg) to 3000 ppb depending on the country, commodity, mycotoxin, and toxicity in the species (human, dog, pig, etc.).

At Mérieux NutriSciences, we understand the difficulties of creating and managing your HACCP plans. Our ISO accredited laboratories offer a multitude of testing options for mycotoxin detection. For more information on our subscription services (Limit Detector and Safety HUD), testing options, and consulting services, contact us today.

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