Molds are responsible for a group of contaminants that have been known for a long time yet are extremely undesirable: mycotoxins. Some of them are known to be highly carcinogenic.
Equipped with high toxicity at times, the maximum permitted levels are extremely low. Due to this and the ever-increasing variety, mycotoxins are basically permanent residents on the European rapid alert system for food and feed safety, as well as the focus of contaminant monitoring for any responsible producer or importer.
Since the molds are living cultures that first originate from individual spores, when the cultures grow, nests are formed that produce mycotoxins in the product randomly. The challenges for the analysis already begin with the sampling, because a representative result has to be determined for a specific lot. That’s why a very large sample is often taken in the first step, up to 30 kg, although the initial weight for the analysis can be less than 10 grams. Delivering reproduceable results for this kind of analysis is a challenge and an art.
It used to be that only ochratoxin A, aflatoxins, and perhaps deoxynivalenol (DON) would be checked, but nowadays the spectrum looks a lot more colorful. One example is the “Alternaria” toxins , which are likely to be found in cereals or soy. The GBA Group pays close attention to these toxins, as well as other toxic substances that occur in the product htereogeneously.
Natürlich vorkommende Kontaminanten wie Mykotoxine und Pyrrolizidinalkaloide, Umweltkontaminaten wie PAKs oder Dioxine und Prozesskontaminanten wie Acrylamid, 3-MCPD und Mineralölkohlenwasserstoffe stellen große Herausforderungen an den Lebensmittelunternehmer. Dieser muss die große Fülle der gesetzlichen Regelungen genauso wie das allgemeine Minimierungsgebot bei noch nicht spezifisch geregelten Stoffen beachten.