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08 October, 2020 Industry News

Webinar on Mycotoxins

Webinar on Mycotoxins

On September 29, 2020, the INC participated in the online webinar on Mycotoxins in dried fruits, tree nuts and peanuts organized by the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit & Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery products, Spices, Honey (FRUCOM).

The objective of the webinar was to give an overview of the efforts made by the countries of origin, the import controls and the legislative amendments. Mr. Jens Borchert, FRUCOM Vice-President, opened the Session with a presentation about mycotoxins in nuts and dried fruits, focusing on the outcomes of the risk assessments published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Mr. Borchert remarked that the level of consumption of nuts and dried fruits is very low compared to other food categories but they are tested more often.
Representatives from different national associations gave an overview of the different mitigation measures put in place in farms and processing steps. Ms. Julie Adams, Vice President, Global Technical & Regulatory Affairs, Almond Board of California, gave an overview of the almond industry in California, highlighting the Pre-export Check (PEC) program put in place in 2015. The aflatoxins and Ochratoxin A (OTA) mitigation measures in Turkish dried fruits were explained by Prof. Dr. Uygun Aksoy, Aegean Exporters’ Association. There is a monitoring program in place since 2005 and more that 100,000 are analyzed per year. Mr. Hasan Sabir, Board member of the Black Sea Hazelnut Exporters’ Association, highlighted that the quality of the hazelnut crops in Turkey is very good since 2019, as the low number of RASFF notifications indicates. Ms. Courtney Dorsett, American Peanut Council/TNA, acknowledged the issue of AFL as one of the main challenges that the American peanut industry has to face. Regarding the US pistachio industry, Dr. Robert Klein, Administrative Committee for Pistachios, agreed that contamination is linked to insect damage, being the Navel Orangeworm the most important pest.
During the second part of the webinar, speakers from EU and national competent authorities talked about the EU controls. First speaker, Dr. Martien Spanjer, NVWA, Nederlandse Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit (Food Safety Authority of the Netherlands) summarized the RASFF alerts/notifications for OTA in figs and pistachios of the last years. Since 2004, there have been 88 alerts/notifications for OTA in figs (50 from Germany, 22 from the Netherlands and 16 from others). In the case of pistachios, 31 alerts have been recorded since 2005 by the Netherlands, being higher the frequency in the last three years. Mr. Frans Verstraete, Deputy Head of Unit, Food processing technologies and novel foods, DG SANTE, European Commission, gave an update of the policy developments on import controls in the EU and on regulatory levels in EU and Codex. He informed that the draft maximum limits for OTA that are currently under discussion are: 8 ppb for dried grapes and figs; 2 ppb for other dried fruits; and 5 ppb for pistachios.
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