Mycotoxins are natural compounds that may cause various adverse toxicological manifestations in humans and animals. The nature, the severity and scope of their adverse activity are varied and in general, even in small amount they have potent carcinogenic, genotoxic effect and injure the immune system. In order to provide high level of health protection for consumers, the European Union has established strict regulatory limits, whose implementation is enforced.The EC (2001) Commission Regulation sets maximum levels for some mycotoxins in foodstuffs: for aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins, T-2 and HT-2 toxins. Particular product categories are regulated under specific decisions ordaining control of imported consignments at the point of entry. Due to the fact that only aflatoxins are addressed in the specific decisions, they are the mostly detected and notified mycotoxins in the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). The second most frequent group, Ochratoxin A is typically detected during internal EU market controls. Most RASFF notifications concern product categories falling under specific EU decisions, especially the Aflatoxin content of nuts and nut products. Significant amount of aflatoxins can be found also in dried fruits, spices and herbs.The article reviews and analyses the data available in rapid alert system concerning mycotoxins notification, and evaluates the usefulness of this information for risk assessment. The value of RASFF system is unquestionable and it fulfils its intended function included in its name. The system is a significant source of valuable information, but for risk assessment purposes, other additional information is needed. It could be used most effectively for risk assessment, if it was to provide data on the ratio of all/tested/positive lots and if the authorities provided not only the positive results, but also the exact mycotoxins level of every analysed sample.
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Authors:A. Berkics, V. Varga, Cs. Mohácsi-Farkas, and Á.B. Jóźwiak
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