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April 06 2022

New EU Recommendation on monitoring of Alternaria toxins in food

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Last 6th April 2022,  it was published the Recommendation (EU) 2022/553 on Monitoring the presence of Alternaria toxins in food.

Alternaria toxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi that can contaminate cereals (mainly wheat, sorghum and barley), oilseeds, fruits and vegetables. In addition to causing plant diseases on many crops such as cereals, oilseeds (sunflower, rapeseed), tomatoes, apples, olives and several  other  fruits  and  vegetables , some of these toxins are genotoxic in vitro and/or fetotoxic in rats. 

Alternaria  species  produce  more  than  70  phytotoxins,  but  a  small  proportion  of  them  have  been  chemically characterised and reported to act as mycotoxins to humans and animals and are described to induce harmful effects in animals, including fetotoxic and teratogenic effects .The 5 most representative molecules of Alternaria toxins in food are Tenuazonic Acid (TeA), Tentoxin (TEN), Alternariol (AOH), Alternariol monomethyl ether (AME), Altenuene (ALT).   

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) adopted a scientific opinion in 2011 (1) on the risks that the presence of Alternaria in food poses to animal and public health.

In 2019  EFSA published  a scientific report on the dietary exposure assessment of Alternaria toxins in the European population ( 2 ). It concluded that the estimated chronic dietary exposure to the Alternaria toxins alternariol, alternariol monomethyl ether and tenuazonic acid exceeds the relevant threshold of toxicological concern, indicating a need for additional compound-specific toxicity data

The EU Commission has recommended the monitoring of Alternaria toxins in food and the identification of the factors resulting in their high levels in certain food.

  • Member States, in close cooperation with the food business operators should monitor the Alternaria toxins alternariol, alternariol monomethyl ether and tenuazonic acid in food, in particular in processed tomato products, paprika powder, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, tree nuts, dried figs and cereal-based foods for infants and young children. If possible, other Alternaria toxins should also be analysed and the results reported to the European Food Safety Authority
  • To ensure that the samples are representative, Member States should follow the relevant sampling procedures laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 401/2006 ( 3 ). 
  • For the determination of alternariol and alternariol monomethyl ether, the LOQ should not be higher than 2 μg/kg in cereal-based foods for infants and young children and 4 μg/kg in other foods, and for the determination of tenuazonic acid, the LOQ should not be higher than 20 μg/kg in all foods.

Mérieux NutriSciences can quantify alternaria toxins: Alternariol (AOH), Tentoxin (TEN), Tenuazonic acid (TeA), Alternariol monomethyl ether  (AME) and altenuen (ALT) on food with LC-MS/MS method, ISO17025 accredited (*).

(*) Click  here to see our complete Scopes of ISO17025 accreditations: Italy and Germany

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