An overview of the EFSA activities on mycotoxins

30-04-2018 | |
Photo: Dreamstime
Photo: Dreamstime

EFSA has published over 40 scientific opinions on risks of mycotoxins for human and animal health and other reports on mycotoxins. For animal feed, 5 authorisations have been given since 2009.

Since its establishment in 2002, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has assessed risks of dietary exposure to mycotoxins for public health and for the health of farm and companion animals on the request of the European Commission and has assessed safety and efficacy of feed additives for the reduction of contamination of feed by mycotoxins within the European Union authorisation process for feed additives. In a new article, published in the World Mycotoxin Journal, the activities from EFSA regarding mycotoxins in food and feed have now been listed. The article has been written by EFSA staff and experts from BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria.

Different panels within EFSA

EFSA receives requests from the European Commission (EC) to issue a scientific opinion. The requests on mycotoxins fall within the remits of the EFSA Panels on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel), EFSA Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP Panel) or the EFSA Unit on Evidence Management (DATA). However, also the EFSA SC and the Emerging Risks Unit have worked on mycotoxins, and the EFSA Panel on Plant health assesses risks posed by pests, including fungal diseases, and weeds to plant health.

5 authorisations in animal feed

In the case of animal feed, the EFSA opinions on mycotoxins relate to new feed additives to be asked to be categorised under the specific functional group of technological feed additives ‘substances for reduction of the contamination of feed by mycotoxins’, which are intended to ‘suppress or reduce the absorption, promote the excretion of mycotoxins or modify their mode of action’ (EU Regulation (EC) No 386/2009 (EU, 2009). In the event of a positive opinion of the FEEDAP Panel, the EC authorises the use of the additive in the EU for 10 years. Since 2009, 14 applications have been submitted for authorisation as feed additives for the reduction of contamination of feed by mycotoxins. Most of them were related to authorisation of clays (mainly montmorillonite) as a binder for AFB1. 2 applications were related to a microorganism which degrades trichothecenes, and 2 others on fumonisin esterase. Of the 14 applications, 8 opinions have been finalised and 5 authorisations have been given.

Other EFSA activities on mycotoxins

Over the years, EFSA funding for mycotoxin projects has been awarded to many European research organisations for the preparatory work of the CONTAM Panel opinions and for generating new scientific information. Projects of EFSA include: project on modelling, predicting and mapping the emergence of AFs in cereals in the EU due to climate change and a project on developing a holistic, innovative and flexible risk assessment modelling approach for mycotoxin mixtures in food and feed (started in 2017).

The summary of the article can be found here.

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Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor