Mycotoxins are toxic substances synthesized from some types of fungi. As they are secondary metabolites, these compounds do not perform vital functions for the fungus. Instead, they are produced as a response to certain factors such as T° and humidity.
These toxins enter the food chain through matrices of vegetable origin (cereals, apples, grapes, fried fruit, spices, wine, beer, coffee, etc.) that can be contaminated before harvesting (field mycotoxins), during storage (storage mycotoxins) or during transport (cross-contamination). Exposure to mycotoxins can even take place through animal matrices (milk, eggs, meat) due to consumption of contaminated feed.
As regards food safety, monitoring the presence of mycotoxins in foodstuffs is of the utmost importance, because they can cause very serious diseases. Mycotoxicosis is a set of disorders caused by exposure to mycotoxins. It includes gastrointestinal disorders, autonomic nervous system alterations, genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and teratogenicity.
The most important mycotoxins in the framework of food hygiene are:
- Aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2 synthesized from Aspergillus flavus and parasiticus and aflatoxin M1, metabolite of aflatoxin B1, which can be found in the milk coming from animals fed with contaminated feed
- Ochratoxins A, B, and C (the most toxic is A), synthesized from fungi of Aspergillus and Penicillium species
- Patulin synthesized from fungi of Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Byssochylamys species
- Toxins synthesized from fungi of the Fusarium species: Deoxynivalenol, Fumonisin, Nivalenol, T-2 and HT-2, Zearalenone
- Ergot alkaloids synthesized from Claviceps fungi
- Alternariol (AOH), Alternariol Monomethyl Ether (AME), and Tenuazonic Acid (TeA) synthesized from Alternaria fungi
These substances are strictly regulated. In general, the maximum levels of contaminants in food matrices are set out in UE Regulation No. 2023/915, which is constantly updated by EFSA on the basis of scientific evidence.
Some mycotoxins are more restricted, as in the case of the maximum levels of sclerotia and alkaloids deriving from the Claviceps species, as specified in EU Regulation No 2021/1399.
In addition, as regards the presence of mycotoxins in feed, the relevant legislation is set out in EC Regulation No 152/2009 laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of feed and in the Commission Recommendation of 17 Augurt 2006 on the presence of deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin A, T-2 and HT-2 and fumonisins in products intended for animal feeding.
White Lab's accredited laboratories offer a wide range of testing to identify and quantify the presence of mycotoxins in the food matrices intended for human consumption and in animal feed with UHPLC-MS method.
- Accredited testing on the presence of Aflatoxins in line with UNI EN ISO 16050:2011 standard
- Multitoxin method in line with UNI EN 17641 standard (Aflatoxins, Ochra, ZEA, T2-HT2, DON, Fumonisins)
- Testing for the presence of Patulin
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