Submitted to: Food Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 26, 2003
Publication Date: January 29, 2004
Citation: Whitaker, T.B. 2004. Standardization of mycotoxin sampling procedures: an urgent necessity. Food Control 14:233-237. Interpretive Summary: Mycotoxins are both toxic and cancer-causing compounds produced by molds that grow on some agricultural commodities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with regulatory agencies from about 90 other countries have set maximum mycotoxin limits in foods and have defined sampling plans to detect contaminated foods destined for consumer use. However, mycotoxin limits and sampling plans differ widely from country to country, which makes international trade between exporters and importers difficult. The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) have requested that United Nation member countries, working through UN committees, agree on a uniform mycotoxin limit and sampling plan to improve international trade and improve consumer safety. Because of the errors associated with each step of a mycotoxin sampling plan, the true mycotoxin concentration in a food shipment cannot be determined with 100 percent certainty and consequently some food shipments are misclassified as acceptable or unacceptable. Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has measured the magnitude of the errors associated with mycotoxin sampling plans and demonstrated how to best reduce these errors for available resources. The FAO/WHO have used these scientific results to establish a uniform maximum limit for aflatoxin and design a uniform aflatoxin sampling plan for raw shelled peanuts traded in the export market.