Aflatoxin B1 is a mycotoxin produced by moulds which grow on certain cereals including maize, wheat and rice. It is particularly prevalent in hot and humid climates and is carcinogenic.
Threat of climate change
As temperatures rise Aflatoxin B1 could become a more significant danger in the EU, so the EFSA has launched a project to help evaluate the risk.
Using different climate change scenarios, the project will gather and analyse data on aflatoxin B1 in order to predict potential future contamination of cereal crops.
EFSA said the project will help to inform any future work in this area by the agency and give an indication of potential food contamination issues related to climate change and mycotoxins.
The project is being run by EFSA’s Emerging Risks Unit, which spokesperson Andrew Cutting said had identified aflatoxin B1 in cereals as a potential area of concern in light of climate change.
The project is expected to begin in late 2009 or early 2010, said Cutting, and a final report will then be published 20 months after the start date.
Before the project can begin, competent scientific organisations, nominated by EU member states under the EFSA’s Article 36’s procedure, are invited to submit proposals. The deadline for these is 7 September and the selected applicant(s) will receive a grant of up to €250,000 from EFSA.
Recommendation on aflatoxin B1 in tree nuts
Aflatoxin B1 hit bakery and snack headlines only last month when the EFSA published an opinion on the level of the mycotoxin intree nuts other than almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios.
The agency recommended raising maximum levels of the toxic mould from 4µ/kg to 10µg/kg. It said public health would not be harmed if the maximum level of aflatoxins permitted in all tree nuts was increased by 150 per cent.