Food safety and quality
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Ochratoxin A contamination in coffee

Coffee is one of the most valuable primary products in world trade, being second in value only to oil as a source of foreign exchange to developing countries. Its cultivation, processing, trading, transportation and marketing provide employment for millions of people worldwide. Any disruption to trade in coffee would have major and direct negative implications for the livelihoods of rural populations in many developing countries.

Around 2000, there was increasing international attention to the problem of ochratoxin-A (OTA) contamination in coffee and its public health implications. OTA is one of several naturally occurring toxins, known as mycotoxins, which are produced by moulds that grow on crops in the field or in storage.  OTA present in green coffee is not completely eliminated during the coffee roasting process.

Regulatory authorities in some coffee importing countries initiated work on the development of proposed maximum levels of OTA contamination in green coffee.  Coffee producing countries and the international coffee industry recognized the need to address this public health problem but argued that the proposed limits were stricter than could be justified on the basis of scientific evidence and, that if applied as proposed, could lead to unjustified rejections with consequent negative economic and social impacts on millions of coffee farmers and small traders world-wide.

FAO, in close collaboration with the International Coffee Organization (ICO), and with funding from the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), launched a 5-year project in 2001 with the main focus of assisting countries to develop national capacities for minimising OTA contamination of green coffee. Implementation partners included national institutes in Brazil, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, France, India, Indonesia, Kenya and Uganda.

The project reports and the Guidelines for the Prevention of Mould Formation in Coffee developed through the project can be accessed here.

The training tool on Good Hygiene Practices along the coffee chain is available here

Final Management Report (PDF)

Final Technical Report (PDF)

Final Technical Report Annexes

Annex C.1

Survey Questionnaire (MS Excel)

Annex C.2

Geographical Distribution of Fungi in Coffee (MS Excel)

Annex C.3

Ochre niger Metabolites (MS Excel)

Annex C.4

Characterising Water in Coffee using NMR (PDF)

Annex C.5

Determining m.c. using the 'EDABO' Method (PDF)

Annex C.6

Delayed Processing Trials (PDF)

Annex C.7

Rate of OTA Production in Two Field Trials (PDF)

Annex C.8

Statistical Analysis of Defect Trials in Kenya (PDF)

Annex C.9

Statistical Analysis of Stored Defects (PDF)

Annex C.10

ITAL Container Simulation Final Report (PDF)

Annex C.11

List of Research Priorities (PDF)

Annex E.1

Market Chain Survey of Coffee Producing Districts in Uganda (PDF)

Annex E.2

Market Chain Survey in India (PDF)

Annex E.3

Targeted Survey in Northern Rift Valley Kenya (PDF)

Annex E.4

Indonesian Socio-economic Studies - Lampung Report Final (PDF)

Annex E.5

Indonesian Socio-economic Studies - Sumatra Report Final (PDF)

Annex E.6

Indonesian Socio-economic Studies - 'Mandheling Coffee' Report (PDF)

Annex E.7

Indonesian Socio-economic Studies - East Java Report Final (PDF)

Annex E.8

Indonesian Socio-economic Studies - Executive Summary (PDF)

Annex E.9a

Synthèse des Études Socio-economiques en Indonésie (CIRAD) (PDF)

Annex E.9b

Overview of Socio-economic Studies in Indonesia (CIRAD) (PDF)

Annex E.10

Socio-economic Study in Uganda (CIRAD) (PDF)

Annex E.11

Étude Socio-economique du Projet Ochratoxine A (Côte d’Ivoire) (PDF)

Annex E.12

LMC International Ltd. Socio-economic Report (PDF)

Annex F.1

Standard Mycological Equipment List (PDF)

Annex F.2

Handbook of Mycological Methods (PDF)

Annex F.3

Mycological Workshop Programme and Contacts (PDF)

Annex F.4

Mycotoxin Analysis and Laboratory Management Manual (PDF)

Annex F.5

Interlaboratory Proficiency Round Final Report (PDF)

Annex G.1

Regulatory Review – Management and Control in Uganda and Kenya (PDF)

Annex G.2

Regulatory Review - Coffee Quality and Safety Management and Control in India (PDF)

Annex H.1

Model Manual on QA and Laboratory Management for OTA Analysis of Coffee (PDF)

Annex X.1

New OTA or sclerotium producing species in Aspergillus section Nigri(PDF)

Annex X.2

New OTA producing species in Aspergillus section Circumdati (PDF)