Aflatoxin in nuts and other foods: The problem
The World Health Organization has estimated that unsafe food is responsible for at least 2 billion illnesses and approximately 1.8 million deaths annually. This has resulted in the food safety market being driven by increasing regulation and significant supermarket pressure on pushing responsibility up the global supply chain. This is especially prevalent in the EU. Recent laws apply at every point in the food chain, in line with the EU’s "farm to fork" approach.
A key aspect of the new legislation is that all food and feed operators, from farmers and processors to retailers and caterers, will have primary responsibility for ensuring that food placed in the EU market meets the required safety standards. Therefore there is increasing demand for analytical (measurement) methods that are accessible to all companies operating within the global food chain, producers, buyers, processors, storekeepers, retailers, exporters, importers, public analysts, contract analysts and regulators, irrespective of size and resources. The ToxiMet technology is applicable throughout the worldwide food supply chain.
The importance of mycotoxins is that they are highly poisonous compounds that are produced by a variety of moulds, which in some cases are carcinogenic. They occur in a wide range of foods and feeds including edible nuts (e.g. peanuts), cereals, dried fruit, spices, dairy products, animal feed, coffee, wines, beer and cocoa, and have been implicated in human and animal diseases. The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that 25 per cent of the world’s food crops are contaminated by mycotoxins. According to the Annual Report of the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), the largest number, approximately 36%, of border rejections within the EU in 2009 resulted from mycotoxin contamination. Of these mycotoxin rejections, the most important food type was ‘nuts (including peanuts), nut products and seeds’.
Whilst some companies have in house testing facilities, many send their samples out to contract analysts. The latter are expensive due to the need for complex High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) equipment and highly trained staff. Equally importantly the outsourcing can have turnaround times of days or weeks.
Aflatoxin: The solution
The first application for the ToxiMet system will be the accurate and precise measurement of the four aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1 and G2) in six edible nuts; peanuts (groundnuts), almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and Cashews.
It is possible to simultaneously measure all four aflatoxins in just one test using a single cartridge. The sensitivity of the ToxiMet system enables it for example to accurately and precisely measuring at the very low EU regulatory levels of 4ppb total aflatoxins and 2ppb aflatoxin B1, applied to aflatoxins in peanuts.
The ability to cost effectively do single tests and avoid outsourcing testing enables companies to release product quicker, reduce demurrage charges, shorten lead times and increase profitability and stock turns.
The ToxiQuant instrument is CE marked and MET Mark certified. ToxiMet is in the process of gaining AOAC accreditation.
Read more about ToxiQuant vs. HPLC analysis