Low risk in food chain from mycotoxin

Related tags European union Mycotoxin

Europe's watchdog concludes that human exposure to the potentially
harmful contaminant zearalenone in the food chain is 'expected to
be low'.

Following an investigation at the request of the European Commission, the scientific panel on contaminants in the food chain (CONTAM) at the European Food Safety Authority has issued an opinion on human exposure to this mycotoxin.

"Due to the rapid biotransformation and excretion of zearalenone in animals, secondary human exposure resulting from residues in meat, milk and eggs is expected to be low, contributing only marginally to the daily intake,"​ said the panel.

Zearalenone is an oestrogenic compound produced by several fungi species, primarily by Fusarium graminearum​ and by Fusarium culmorum​. The toxin is common in maize and maize products, but can be found in soybeans and various cereals and grains, as well as their by-products.

No maximum levels for zearalenone in animal feed have been established in EU legislation although some Member States have established national orientation values for the presence ofzearalenone in feed.

Maximum levels for zearalenone in foodstuffs are currently under discussion at EU level because the mycotoxin has a potent oestrogenic effect and consequently causesphysiological disturbances and fertility problems in mammals. Following a risk assessment in 2001 the EU's Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition (SCAN) recommended that a full risk assessment on zearalenonshould be undertaken as a priority. Their conclusions led the Commission to ask the EFSA CONTAM for a full investigation.

"Ruminants and poultry show a lower responsiveness to zearalenone. However, monitoring of feeding stuffs are needed to improve exposure assessment and dose-response studies are essential to establish safe levels of exposure for zearalenone in feed materials for all individual farm animal species, including minor species such as rabbits and small ruminants,"​ added the EFSA scientists.

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