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Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites of fungi belonging, essentially, to the Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium genera. These naturally occurring chemical compounds can be produced on a wide range of agricultural commodities and under a diverse range of situations worldwide.

The accumulation of mycotoxins in foods and feeds represents a major threat to human and animal health as they are responsible for many different toxicities including the induction of cancer, mutagenicity and estrogenic gastrointestinal, urogenital, vascular, kidney and nervous disorders. Some mycotoxins are also immuno-compromising, and can thus reduce resistance to infectious disease. Significant economic losses are associated with their impact on human health, animal productivity, and both domestic and international trade.

There is an ongoing need to protect the health of humans and susceptible animals by limiting their exposure to mycotoxins. Despite many years of research, and the introduction of good practices in the food production, storage and distribution chain, mycotoxins continue to be a problem. Many countries regulate for, or suggest permitted levels of, mycotoxins in foods and feed because of their public health significance and commercial impact.

AGNS assists Member Countries in the prevention and control of mycotoxins through a variety of activities:

  • Training on the application of HACCP principles to mycotoxin prevention and control;
  • International conferences and meetings;
  • Workshops on quality assurance for mycotoxin testing laboratories;
  • Field projects on mycotoxins in commodities;
  • International mechanisms to identify food-related emerging risks.