Strategies for Worldwide Mycotoxin Reduction in Food and Feed Chains

Novel Integrated Strategies for Worldwide Mycotoxin Reduction in Food and Feed Chains


MycoRed (Novel integrated strategies for worldwide mycotoxin reduction in the food and feed chains) was a large collaborative European Union project into the Seventh Framework Programme involving 25 participants from 17 countries.

The project aimed at developing strategic solutions to reduce contamination by mycotoxins of major concern in economically important food and feed chains. Novel methodologies, efficient handling procedures and information, dissemination and educational strategies were considered in a context of multidisciplinary integration of know-how and technology to reduce mycotoxins exposure worldwide. The project was significantly built on the outcome of several European projects on mycotoxins by supporting, stimulating and facilitating education and cooperation with countries having major mycotoxin concerns related to (international) trade and human health.

Five work-packages (WPs) developed novel solution driven strategies to reduce both pre-and post-harvest contamination in feed and food chains. They involved: i) optimization of plant resistance and fungicide use; ii) biocontrol to reduce toxigenic fungi in cropping systems, iii) predictive modelling and optimise logistics; iv) novel post-harvest and storage practices and v) application of new food processing technologies. Two horizontal WPs developed enabling methodologies for i) advanced diagnostics and quantitative detection of toxigenic fungi and ii) rapid and multi-toxin detection of mycotoxins and relevant biomarkers.  

The direct involvement of ICPC countries (Argentina, Egypt, Russia, South Africa, Turkey) and international organizations (CIMMYT,IITA) together with strong alliances with major research institutions in the USA (3 USDA Centers/5 Universities), Australia, Malaysia are strengthened the project through sharing experiences and resources from several past mycotoxin projects in a global context.

The INC was involved in WP5 and WP8 participating in the following tasks:
  • Food and feed processing for mycotoxin reduction. Effect of dehulling / peeling and roasting processes on aflatoxins in almonds, pistachios and apricot kernels.
  • Training video for mycotoxin sampling. New video on mycotoxin sampling for food and feed regional training course for dissemination in developing countries, mainly Africa and South America.
  • Global Network, awareness and dissemination. Conduction of a Delphi study on advances on reduction of mycotoxins in wheat, maize and nuts and dried fruits in order to generate ideas and facilitate consensus among experts.
  • Dissemination of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) / Good Management Practices (GMP) / Good Storage Practice (GSP). Dissemination of the results of the project, GAPs, standards, regulations and technical issues for nuts and dried fruits through our website.
  • Economic evaluation of the impact of mycotoxin contamination. Expenses related to the eventual destruction and /or confiscation of goods, customs duties for incoming and outgoing material, demurrage at ports awaiting health inspections, and the cost of controls.
For more information:


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Food Safety Alerts

Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)

The RASFF is an effective tool to exchange information within EU Member States about measures taken responding to serious risks detected in relation to food or feed. This exchange of information helps Member States to act more rapidly and in a coordinated manner in response to a health threat caused by food or feed.

The INC Annual report collects and classifies all RASFF notifications published in RASFF portal web page, between product, country of origin, notifying country and type of notification.

otifications are also introduced with figures and tables to catch easier important information. Some caution is needed when taking conclusions from this report, for example, it is not because a Member State has a relatively high number of notifications that the situation regarding food safety would be bad in that country. On the contrary, it could indicate that a greater number of food checks are carried out. The analysis shall consider trade volumes through Member States.

The RASFF notifications can be found at the following link:  

Australian Border Rejections Report
INC report "Australia Import Border Rejections" collects and classifies all notifications for nuts and dried fruits published by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

The foods listed in the report have been identified as failing foods under the Australian Imported Food Control Act 1992.

Failing foods are subjected to further government action. Future consignments of the foods will be inspected at the rate of 100 per cent of consignments until the food demonstrates compliance with Australian food standards for five consecutive consignments.

The Australian Failing Food reports identify foods that have been found to fail analytical testing or do not meet the compositional requirements of the Food Standards Code.

These reports do not list foods that have failed for non–compliant labels as the responsibility for the correct labelling of imported food lies with the importer of the food. In these cases, the importer has an opportunity to bring the label into compliance with Australian food labelling standards.

Australian failing food reports can be found on the following web page:  

Japanese Border Rejections Report
The INC report "Japan Import Border Rejections " collects and classifies all Japanese cases of violation of the food sanitation law notifications for nuts and dried fruits, published in the MHLW Imported Foods Inspection Services Home Page regarding product, country of origin and type of notification.

To ensure the safety of imported foods and related products, Article 27 of the Japanese Food Sanitation Law obliges importers to submit import notification.

After the submission of the notification, the food sanitation inspector at the quarantine station inspects the product to examine whether the item meets the regulations under the Food Sanitation Law.

When a cargo has been judged not to comply with the law, it cannot be imported into Japan. The Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) quarantine station will notify the importer how the cargo violates the Food Sanitation Law, and the importer will take necessary measures by following the instructions from the station.

The cases of violation of Food Sanitation Law that are Found on the Occasion of Import Notification are available on:

United States Border Rejections Report
The INC report "Import Border Rejections Report" collects and classifies all notifications for nuts published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To ensure the safety of imported foods and related products, the USA Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) authorizes the Food and Drug Administration FDA to detain a regulated product that appears to be out of compliance with the Act.

The IRR reports on those products for which a determination was to refuse admission to part or all of the product offered for importation. The IRR is generated from data collected by FDA's Operational and Administrative System for Import Support (OASIS) and is updated monthly.

FDA has prepared this information in an effort to provide the public with information on products that have been found to appear in violation of the Act.

The cases of violation of Food Sanitation Law that are Found on the Occasion of Import Notification are available on:

Sampling Video

Sampling is perhaps the most critical step in mycotoxicological risk evaluation. This training is particularly important for trade exchanges of raw plant products (grains, fruits etc.) from developing countries.
The main goal of this video is to reduce the total variance (error) of the mycotoxin test procedure (sampling, sample preparation and analytical determination), and it is intended for food and feed regional training courses and dissemination in developing countries.

The video has been recorded in English, Spanish and French, and has been edited with the invaluable cooperation of Pino Calcagni, INC Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Scientific Committee, Angelo Visconti, Director of the Institute of Sciences of Food Production, National Research Council (ISPA, CNR of Italy) and member of the INC Scientific Committee, ISPA-CNR researchers, and INC members Besana Group, Borges SAU, Almond Board of California and Paramount Farms, Inc.  


Under the MycoRed project the INC published a comprehensive collection of production, imports, exports and consumption statistics. Data sources from the INC Database, the DESA/UNSD United Nations Comtrade Database and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Global Statistical Review can be found at the following links.
2007-2012. Global Statistical Review.
2006-2011. Global Statistical Review.
2004-2009. Global Statistical Review.    

Economic Impact

Abstract – Economic Impact of Mycotoxins in Nuts and Dried Fruit Chain

The economic impact of mycotoxins is directly related to the quantity of products commercialized at the international level relative to legal limits. A report on economic evaluation of the impact of mycotoxin contamination of nut and dried fruit chain has been developed by INC during the first two years of the project. During the second half of the project, the INC is enlarging the survey with the evaluation of the economic impact of mycotoxins in maize, wheat and grape.

In the economic sense, mycotoxin infestation, contamination and exposure affects growers and processors, whith the loose of part of the crop, prevention in the field and storage, border rejections, transportation, tests, etc., as well as Governments, in terms of controls costs and Public Health costs.

Within the group of nuts and dried fruits, Aflatoxins are found in peanuts, tree nuts and dried figs, while Ochratoxin A is found in dried fruits.

The toxicity of the mycotoxins and its implication in some diseases, the food safety expenditures and control costs were evaluated to calculate the government’s costs. Border rejections of the commodities, destruction of goods and routine analysis were evaluated for the industry losses estimation.

The industry losses were evaluated with the real border rejections of the EU-27 countries plus Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland, Japan, United States of America and Australia, which all of them account for around the 70% of all the global imports of nuts and dried fruits. A questionnaire was distributed to the main exporters to estimate the costs of routine analysis, fees, demurrage at ports, staff and extra costs on transportation due to border rejections. The total costs due to mycotoxin contamination for the industry reaches up to 100.000.000 US$ annually.

Government’s cost on public health related to mycotoxin ingestion was evaluated with the incidence of mycotoxins on different illnesses, the rate of implication of those illnesses on the disability-adjusted life year (WHO) and the health expenditure per capita of the countries most affected by uncontrolled mycotoxin exposure. Estimating the lowest percentage of implication (1%), this cost reaches 2 billion US$.

Government’s costs by controls at borders are mainly charged to the imports industry.


Main results achieved at 18 Months

The different methodologies for inoculation of wheat cultivars correlated well in the first two years indicating that different methodologies might bring similar results in variety testing for Fusarium resistance. In maize the picture is less clear. The QTLs from Sumai 3 in function differ, but in effect similar, the co-operation of the QTLs bring the real breakthrough in resistance breeding in wheat. In the Hobbit-sib series several new FHB QTLs were described. In F. verticillioides resistance in maize 816 genes showed up- or down-regulation after inoculation and 671 sequences were differentially expressed.The FUM20 gene was highlighted in the FUM cluster of ngenes. In fungicide technology a significant improvement was made, a better nozzle composition was developed causing 50 % additional reduction compared to the best technology found until now. In maize the fungicide effect is less than in wheat, but significant. In wheat no significant translocation was found.

Antagonist treatments in maize and peanuts strongly reduced aflatoxin concentrations in grain at harvest as well after storage. Some antagonists reduced Fusarium spp. in stubble of maize. The disease level in wheat was low so that no effects of control measures could be assessed.

FHB-wheat model was validated with data collected in the project and it showed good prediction of DON contamination in wheat at harvest. All data available useful for the development of predictive models for FUM and AFs in maize, OTA in grapes were collected and stored. A data base was filled with all meteorological data related to sampling points and all cropping system and mycotoxin contamination data of wheat, maize and grapes.

The relationship between environmental conditions, DML and mycotoxin contamination levels were modelled to determine the threshold losses which could be tolerated in relation to the EU legislative limits for wheat (DON), maize (Fumonisins) and hazelnuts (aflatoxins) for the first time. O3 is able to inhibit spore germination of A.flavus, but has little effect on mycelia growth. However, there are effects on sporulation and aflatoxin production in vitro. A range of novel compounds to treat grain post-harvest have been identified in relation to inhibition of mycotoxin production in the chosen food chains. The developed sensor device has been developed and the system successfully tested in pilot scale silos.

Agricultural by products and commercial products were classified for their ability to bind in vitro simultaneously aflatoxins B1, ZEA, FB1, OTA and DON. Some yeast strains were selected for their ability to detoxify aflatoxins B1. The efficacy and safety of food processing procedures in reducing mycotoxin content has been initiated. Sulphuration dehulling/peeling and sorting significantly reduced the content of aflatoxins B1 of apricot seed reduced aflatoxins B1 (75-91%).

A number of 602 strains of Aspergillus, 209 strains of Penicillia and 340 strains of Fusarium were newly included in the ITEM culture collection. AFLP typing and sequencing of calmodulin, β-tubulin and elongation factor genes of Aspergillus strains from isolated from grapes revealed clear phylogenetic groupings, which corresponds with the ability to produce ochratoxin A. Specific PCR systems and for type A trichothecene producing Fusaria, like F. sporotrichioides and F. langsethiae have been developed. Both species could be distinguished by highly specific Real Time PCR reactions. For potentially ochratoxin A producing Aspergilli Section Nigri High Resolution Melting analysis approaches have been set up. Furthermore it could be shown that external abiotic stress factors have a strong influence on ochratoxin and aflatoxin biosynthesis by controlling the transcription of the respective biosynthetic genes. With light of certain wave length as an external stress factor ochratoxin A production can be completely stopped.

Quantitative analysis of over 250 metabolites has been feasible and has been applied to over 500 samples. DON- and ZON- conjugates occur less frequent and at lower concentrations compared to the parent toxins. A clean-up based on a multi-toxin immunoaffinity column enables the determination of mycotoxin biomarkers in urine at the (sub-)ppb level. Rapid test kits were found to be fit for purpose for various matrices with cross reactivities against 15-Ac-DON, DOM-1 and DON-3-Glucoside.

International Conference in Europe (more than 400 participants) has been organized, and Workshops (Hungary and Argentina), training course (Argentina) and home education (Argentina and China), 16 Short Term Visits running, 2 international Twinnings with Canada and Argentina, about 15 scientific alliances and agreements with international experts and organizations, promotional materials (brochure, poster), project's website.


MycoRed South & Central America 2011 Conference "Strategies to reduce the impact of mycotoxins in Latin America in a global context"
Mendoza (Argentina), November 15-18, 2011

The MycoRed-ISM 2011 Conference is organized by the Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto in the frame of EU Mycored project and co-organized by the International Society for Mycotoxicology (ISM) and The Latin American Society for Mycotoxicology (SLAM).

To increase the safety of food and feed stuffs is a priority worldwide, mycotoxins are natural contaminants and the significant reduction of these contaminants in the food and feed industries is one of the key challenges to reach a better sanitary quality in the food market.

The aims of the conference are:
  • to highlight the new findings to reduce the mycotoxins contamination in the food and feed chains by the improvement and development of strategies that allow technical solutions at different stages of the agro-food chains,
  • to exchange know-how of scientists coming from different disciplines,
  • to open a discussion forum among stake holders, policy makers, academy, food chain managers, processors to continue working in reducing the mycotoxin impact in Latin America in a global context,
  • to open the opportunities for networking among different institutions from academy and the private sector.
The conference will include keynote lectures by international experts, oral presentations posters sessions, discussion group sessions.

Also commercial exhibition by sponsors dealing with the products of interest for the mycotoxicology area will participate in the conference by exhibition booths.

Read More! Conference website.

2nd ISM-MycoRed Mediterranean Workshop
Istanbul (Turkey), October 14, 2011

The Workshop on "Mycotoxicological Risks in Mediterranean Countries: Economic Impact, Prevention, Management and Control" will be held in Istanbul on 14 October 2011, in the framewok of the 4th International Congress on Food and Nutrition and the 3rd SAFE Consortium International Congress on Food Safety.

This workshop will be focused on the cooperation among Mediterranean Countries, with an overview on the current situation on the occurrence of mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi in Mediterranean Bacin.

Venue: Istanbul Convention Centre in Istanbul, Turkey

MycoRed Workshop in RUSSIA
Moscow (Russia), June 9-10, 2011

In the framework of MycoRed activities, a special Workshop «Reduction of Mycotoxins in Production Chains of EU and Russia: Modern Investigations and Practical Features» was held in Russia in Moscow June 9-10, 2011.

This workshop was focused on dissemination of MycoRed results, information exchange between EC and Russian specialists and discussion of specific features of mycotoxin problem in Russia.

Workshop was held in the main building of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Leninsky prospect 32A, Moscow, Russia). Organizer from the Russian side was A.N.Bach Institute of Biochemistry of RAS (INBI RAS).

Two-days programme of the Workshop included reports of participants from Russian organizations and from the MycoRed Consortium.

The first session was focused on systems to reduce the impact of mycotoxins and their monitoring and control.

The second session was focused on analytical techniques for mycotoxins control.

MycoRed General Assembly 2011
Rome (Italy), May 5-6, 2011

The MycoRed General Assembly 2011 took place on May, 5 and 6 2011 in Rome at Department of Plant Biology- University Sapienza -Orto Botanico.

The whole Consortium attended the meeting for a follow up at 24 Months from the beginning of the MycoRed project, to show developments and update the workplan for next activities.

This appointment was very important and preliminary to the Mid-term review of the project, scheduled in July 2011 in Brussels with EU Commission officers.

The External Advisory Board attended the meeting to know the progresses, to give adivces and suggest improvements for a better development of the project.

The MycoRed Executive Committee met also on May 6, 2010.

"Mycotoxin reduction – Global solutions"
Cape Town (South Africa), April 4-6, 2011

The MycoRed Africa 2011 Conference brought together a range of international experts to discuss mycotoxicological issues in general and mycotoxin reduction measures in particular.

The Conference was held from  under the auspices of the International Society for Mycotoxicology.

The academic programme aimed to address a wide range of issues concerning mycotoxins, including their production by mycotoxigenic fungi, natural occurrence, their fate during processing from farm to plate, toxicology and regulatory control. Emphasis was placed on the conference theme, but prominence was given to the problems in different African environments and their potential solutions.

Besides talks on numerous topics by invited speakers (local and international), there was opportunity for presentation of original research work, either as oral or poster presentations. Participation of delegates from the African continent was encouraged and actively promoted.

Delegates were encouraged to use this meeting as a forum to discuss their research findings.

The conference was organized by Gordon Shephard from MRC.

Venue: CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

Visit the website.

MycoRed-MoniQA Training Course: Capacity Building in Mycotoxin Safe Food Trade
Penang (Malaysia), December 6-10, 2010

The INC, represented by Mr. Pino Calcagni, Chairman of the INC Scientific and Government Affairs Committee,  participated in the training course "Capacity Building in Mycotoxin Safe Food Trade" to be held in Penang, Malaysia, from December 6-10, 2010, in cooperation with MoniQA project.

The training was focused on education, awareness, leading to improved surveillance and regulation, building a network, by an interactive program with discussion groups. Mr. Calcagni was guest speaker and trainer at the session "The regulatory environment".

The course was addressed to approximately 20 food inspectors with the following key issues in their profile:

food safety knowledge/expertise;middle level (does inspections or guides inspections);interest beyond laboratory environment;communication skills in English, andactive contribution to discussions and deliverables.

New MycoRed site launched by INC at


MycoRed International Conference
Penang (Malaysia), December 1-4, 2010

The international conference "Global Mycotoxin Reduction Strategies: Research Advances in Asia and the Pacific Rim" was held in Penang, Malaysia from 1 to 4 December 2010.

This joint conference was organized by University Sains Malaysia (USM) and co-organized by International Society for Mycotoxicology (ISM), MycoRed FP7 European project and CIMMYT (Mexico).

This appointment was very important and strategic for all the Asian and Pacific Rim community, as it involved experts and international scientists who presented the latest knowledge and researches developed in the field of toxins and mycotoxins at a global level, with focus on particular food chains most affected.

It also represented an opportunity for the dissemination of information and networking pertaining to global scientific and policy issues.

Download the brochure and click here for details.

ISM Workshop-Training Course: Detection techniques for mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi in the food chain
Bari (Italy), October 4-8, 2010

A one-week workshop-training course was held at the Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA-CNR) in Bari, Italy, organized by Dr. Angelo Visconti and Dr. Antonio F. Logrieco, under the aegis of the MycoRed project and the International Society for Mycotoxicology (ISM).

The goal of the course was to demonstrate and teach traditional methods and new molecular, chemical and immunological systems for rapid, robust and user friendly identification of mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi in the food chain. Much of the course was spent on practical training in the laboratory.

Detection Techniques for Mycotoxins and Toxigenic Fungi in the Food Chain · MycoRed Project · Online Training Course
July 9, 2010

Students and researchers from all countries participated at the joint MycoRed-ISM training course: "Detection techniques for mycotoxin and toxigenic fungi in the food chain" from 4 to 8 October 2010. A one-week workshop-training course held at ISPA-CNR in Bari, Italy, under the aegis of the MycoRed project and ISM (International Society for Mycotoxicology).

Brochure Training Course
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