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2013-2015 Multi-Mycotoxin Analysis in Selected Foods


Targeted surveys (TS) are used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to focus its surveillance activities on areas of highest risk. The information gained from these surveys provides both support for the prioritization of the Agency's activities to areas of greater concern and scientific evidence to address areas of lesser concern. Originally started under the Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP), targeted surveys have been incorporated into the CFIA's regular surveillance activities as a valuable tool for generating essential information on certain hazards in foods, identifying/characterizing new and emerging hazards, informing trend analysis, prompting/refining human health risk assessments, assessing compliance with Canadian regulations, highlighting potential contamination issues and promoting compliance.

The main objectives of this targeted survey were to:

  • Expand baseline data on the presence and levels of mycotoxins in corn products, oat products, other grain products, processed grain products and wheat products; and
  • Compare these results to other data, where feasible.

Mycotoxins are natural toxins released by moulds. Their human health effects are varied; the health effects depend on the type and level of mycotoxin in the food. Canada does not have maximum levels for most of the mycotoxins in finished grain-based products targeted in this survey, with the exception of ochratoxin A, for which Canada has proposed maximum levels in certain foods. According to the Food and Drug Regulations, nut and nut products that contain more than 15 parts per billion of aflatoxin are considered adulterated (FDR (B.01.046 (1)n)).

A total of 2235 samples were analyzed for the presence of mycotoxins. These samples included 1174 processed grain products, 360 wheat products, 348 other grain products, 186 corn products and 167 oat products. Mycotoxins where detected in 1327 samples (59.4%). A total of 21 different mycotoxins were detected in the product types sampled by this survey. Aflatoxins G2, diacetoxyscirpenol and fusarenone-X were not detected in any of the samples. The mycotoxin detected most frequently was deoxynivalenol in a total of 1044 samples (46.7%).

Some of the mycotoxins in this survey are being examined for the first time, such as 3-acetyldeoxynivalenol, 15-acetyldeoxynivalenol, diacetoxyscirpenol, fusarenone-X, neosolaniol, nivalenol, ergot alkaloids, HT-2/T2 toxins, cyclopiazonic acid, sterigmatocystin, α-zearalenol, β-zearalenol and zearalenone.

All mycotoxin results were assessed by Health Canada's Bureau of Chemical Safety (BCS). Health Canada's BCS concluded that the levels detected in this survey were not expected to pose a human health concern. No product recalls were warranted given the lack of a human health concern.

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