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Mycotoxins are considered to be among the most significant food contaminants with regard to their negative impact on public health, food security and the national economy of many countries, particularly the developing ones. They affect a wide range of agricultural products, including cereals, dried fruits, nuts, coffee beans and oilseeds, which are the backbone of most developing economies. These major crops are highly susceptible to fungal contamination and mycotoxin production. Mycotoxin contamination of susceptible commodities occurs as a result of environmental conditions in the field as well as improper harvesting, storage and processing operations.

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system has been increasingly and successfully applied by the food industry and by official food control authorities to prevent and control risks associated with potential contamination of food products with pathogenic micro-organisms and chemical toxicants. Food safety programmes routinely use information about the factors leading to contamination to establish preventive and control procedures, thus providing the consumer with a safe, wholesome food supply.

This Manual was prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA) through their joint FAO/IAEA Training and Reference Centre for Food and Pesticide Control. Its main aim is to provide guidance to those countries/institutions wishing to apply the HACCP approach to mycotoxin prevention and control.

The text and case studies were prepared by M. Pineiro of the Laboratorio Tecnologico del Uruguay, Ave. Italia 6201, Montevideo, Uruguay and M. Nagler, R. Coker, L. Nicolaides, P. Wareing and R. Myhara of Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Medway University Campus, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, United Kingdom. The manual benefited from the peer review and comments of M. Olson, Swedish National Food Administration, D. Park, University of Louisiana and E. Boutrif, Food Quality and Standards Service, FAO.

The examples presented in this Manual have been based on real case studies and aim to illustrate the application of HACCP specifically for mycotoxin control. It must be emphasised that these HACCP plans are only examples and are for guidance and training only. Every HACCP plan must be developed following the 12 tasks, and applying the seven principles of HACCP as defined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. It is unlikely that any two HACCP plans will be identical, even for the same product.

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