The UK's food safety agency this week reported that two batches of maize meal have been removed from sale after tests showed that they contained unusually high levels of fumonisins, a group of 'undesirable' chemicals called mycotoxins which are derived from the growth of moulds on the grain.
The two products, Fresh and Wild Organic Maize Meal and Infinity Foods Organic Maize Meal, were tested as part of an on-going survey being carried out by the Food Standards Agency to check for levels of a range of mycotoxins in maize and maize products.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) added that results received so far in the survey for other maize-containing products, such as corn flour and polenta, 'are not a cause for concern'.
Fumonisins have been shown to cause liver and kidney damage in animals after long-term exposure and it is possible that they could have the same effect on humans.
While there is no limit for fumonisins in food currently, the European Commission (EC) has proposed a limit of 500 micrograms per kilogram (mcg/kg). The levels found in the two maize meal samples are above the proposed EC limit and are considered to be high at 4712 and 20 435 mcg/kg.
The two products have been withdrawn from sale as a precaution and the EC has been notified about the results. The FSA reported that it is now carrying out further testing to see if any other brands are affected.