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2015-2016 Deoxynivalenol in Selected Grains and Pulses


Targeted surveys provide information on potential food hazards and enhance the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) routine monitoring programs. These surveys provide evidence regarding the safety of the food supply, identify potential emerging hazards, and contribute new information and data to food categories where it may be limited or non-existent. They are often used by the CFIA to focus surveillance on potential areas of highest risk. Surveys can also help to identify trends and provide information about how industry complies with Canadian regulations.

Grain products, pseudo-cereals, such as quinoa, and pulses (chickpeas, lentils, beans, etc.) are staple foods consumed in Canada. Mould can grow on agricultural products as a result of insect damage and/or warm, wet weather conditions during growth and harvest. Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a natural toxin that can be released by these moulds.

To look at the levels of DON present in foods in the Canadian market, the CFIA carried out a retail survey of foods likely to contain DON. In this survey, 997 products were sampled. Detectable levels of DON were found in 46% of samples tested. There are currently no limits for DON in finished grain products in Canada but there is a limit of 2000 ppb for DON in uncleaned soft wheat in non-staple foods. Any high results of DON are reviewed by Health Canada's Bureau of Chemical Safety to determine if DON levels are harmful to consumers. Levels found in this survey were considered safe for consumption by Canadians and no product recalls were required.

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