EUROPE – A recent study analyzing data from the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) between 2011 and 2021 has shed light on the prevalence of mycotoxin notifications, with aflatoxin-contaminated nuts and seeds emerging as a prominent concern.

The study, which examined 4752 mycotoxin notifications across various food products, highlighted that a staggering 63% of these notifications were related to “Nuts, Nut products and Seeds”.

Within this category, groundnuts (52%), pistachios (27%), hazelnuts (10%), and almonds (5%) were the primary contributors to the notifications.

Groundnuts, due to their susceptibility to aflatoxins (AFs) as they grow in soil conducive to AF-producing fungi, accounted for the majority of notifications. Among groundnut products, in-shell groundnuts (52%) and shelled groundnuts (30%) were most frequently implicated.

Pistachios, hazelnuts, and almonds also showed significant notification rates, with specific products like in-shell pistachios and shelled hazelnuts being particularly affected.

Data was retrieved from the RASFF via the food hazard prediction platform FOODAKAI, which utilizes advanced AI to analyze global food safety databases.

The study focused on mycotoxin notifications in nuts and seeds over the specified period, employing criteria such as hazard category, product type, and origin.

The findings underscore the persistent challenge of mycotoxin contamination in nuts and seeds, posing risks to consumer health and trade. With the EU being a major importer of edible nuts and products, stringent regulations are imperative to ensure food safety standards are met.

The EU’s RASFF plays a crucial role in facilitating the rapid exchange of information on food and feed hazards among member states. However, despite efforts to manage fungal toxin contamination, the study highlights ongoing concerns regarding mycotoxin levels exceeding regulatory limits, leading to frequent border rejections.

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