Vertex food regulator, FSSAI, has issued new notifications amending the protocol to test the mycotoxins including aflatoxin in food items. FSSAI has asked all the laboratory to follow this revised manual with immediate effect over the previous manual.
According to the FSSAI all food samples suspected of being contaminated with mycotoxins must be handled with extreme care, as aflatoxins are potent carcinogenic substances.
The manual talks about personal safety precautions, precautions during analysis and handling of glassware for aflatoxin analysis.
Currently, the regulatory limits for mycotoxins in food as defined by the FSSAI include 15 microgram per kg in cereals, and cereal products, pulses, nuts and nuts for further processing. For Aflatoxins the limit is prescribed at 10 microgram per kg for ready to eat products, and dried figs, while 30 microgram per kg for spices and for oilseeds for further processing, the limit is set at 15 microgram per kg.
Similarly, the limit of Aflatoxin M1 in milk is 0.5 microgram per kg, Ochratoxin A in wheat, barley and rye is at 20 microgram per kg, and for Patulin, the limit is 50mcrogram per kg in apple juice and apple juice ingredients in other beverages.
Further, the limit for Deoxynivalenol in wheat is fixed at 1000ppm.
One of the most notorious mycotoxins- Aflatoxin is a secondary metabolite of fungi obtained and present in farm foods. This Mycotoxin imposes a major threat to the food producing farms. Aflatoxin producing list is dominated by three major genera-Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium.
These Aflatoxin producing fungi can infest farm produce at any stage be it growth, cultivation, processing or storage operations. Some of the more common crops susceptible to contamination with aflatoxins are cereals (e.g. maize, rice and wheat).
It comes to a major concern owing the use of husk of these susceptible plants are used for animal feed too.
Whereas another Mycotoxin Patulin produced by genera such as Penicillium, Apergillus, and Byssochylamys molds can infect fruits, crops cheese etc. While Ochratoxin is another entrant in the list that imposes similar threats.