Starting from January 1st 2023, in the European Union, there will be an important update regarding the legal limits for the presence of Ochratoxin A (OTA) in various foods, including cocoa.
European legislation currently in force for Ochratoxin A in cocoa
This new regulation will cancel and replace the previous COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 105/2010, published on February 5th 2010, in which it was stated that: “On the basis of the information available, it does not appear necessary for the protection of public health to set a maximum level of OTA in dried fruit other than raisins, cocoa and cocoa products… as they are not a significant contributor to OTA exposure and high levels of OTA have been found only seldom in those products.”
This change of course stems from the fact that in 2020 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adopted an update of the scientific opinion on Ochratoxin A in food. In fact, it considered that it was not appropriate to establish a guide value based on health considerations for Ochratoxin A and that consequently the Tolerable Weekly Intake of 120 ng/kg body weight, as previously established by EFSA in 2006, was no longer valid.
New European legislation in force from 01 January 2023 for Ochratoxin A in cocoa
The new COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2022/1370, published on August 5th 2022 and which will officially enter into force on January 1st 2023, declares: “Taking into account that ochratoxin A has been found in foods for which no maximum level has been established yet and which contribute to the human exposure to ochratoxin A, it is appropriate to set a maximum level also for these foods such as dried fruit other than dried vine fruit, certain liquorice products, dried herbs, certain ingredients for herbal infusions, certain oilseeds, pistachio nuts and cocoa powder.”
The maximum content of Ochratoxin A in cocoa powder will be set at 3ug/kg.
Aflatoxins and current legislation in Europe and worldwide
In the past, Ochratoxin A was the mycotoxin which presence was mostly found in cocoa, but now, more and more frequently, the presence of aflatoxins is also detected in the cocoa samples analysed.
Consequently, in the last twenty years there has been a growth, especially at the European level, of the interest in these mycotoxins within cocoa samples, as cocoa-based products are very often intended for children’s consumption.
Here are some studies on the subject and a report from the RASSF received in May 2021.
- RASSF NOTIFICATION 2021.2681 “Increased aflatoxin content in organic cocoa powder from Ghana, via the Netherlands” – Notified on May 26th 2021 by Germany
- Risk assessment of aflatoxins in food – EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM), 2020
- Aflatoxins and ochratoxin A in chocolate products in Turkey – B. Kabak, 2018
- Co-occurrence of ochratoxin a and aflatoxins in chocolate marketed in Brazil – M.V. Copetti, B.T. Iamanaka, J.L. Pereira, D.P. Lemespe, F. Nakano, M.H. Taniwaki – 2012
- Exposure to aflatoxins in Japan: Risk assessment for aflatoxin B1 – Y. Sugita-Konishi, T. Sato, S. Saito, 2010
At the moment there is still no European legislation that regulates the maximum levels of aflatoxins in the specific cocoa matrix, however in recent years we are witnessing a substantial increase in the number of laboratories that are accredited for the analysis of aflatoxins in cocoa.
Controls are essential
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to control the growth and development of mycotoxins in the field, as contamination levels can vary over the years, based on climate and other environmental factors.
Experts predict that a significant increase in the presence of these toxins in food will occur in the coming years due to climate change. It will therefore be essential to keep consumer exposure through food under strict control and as low as possible.
We at Test Veritas are committed to providing Proficiency Tests that are in line with the needs of the market, for this reason in 2023 we have decided to propose a new PT:
PT for the research of Aflatoxins B/G and Ochratoxin A in cocoa (code C3501)
Round of June 2023
- Deadline for online orders: May 5th 2023
- Shipping date: June 19th 2023
- 55g x 1 Test Material.
- The Test Material is incurred (naturally contaminated). The laboratories must prefer incurred Test Materials instead of spiked ones, because only with naturally contaminated samples the extractive capability will be evaluated.
- For this PT, as for all those belonging to the line of Progetto Trieste – Mycotoxins, it is possible to send 2 sets of results and evaluate in this way, with a single subscription, two laboratory technicians or two different techniques (note that they must both derive from confirmatory methods or both from screening methods, depending on the participation purchased).
- The assigned value derives only from quantitative confirmatory results. Screening results are assessed by dedicated criteria.
- The price is only 260,00€ for confirmatory methods (chromatographic methods), or 190,00€ for screening method participation (i.e. ELISA, lateral flow…).
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