Nutritech - Rethinking the Food Chain

Attempt to reduce health risks and financial losses - New technologies for rapid analysis of mycotoxins to detect contaminated food batches

16.10.2013 9:38


VTT organized a seminar: New Technologies for Rapid Analysis of Mycotoxins in end of August (27.8.2013). The seminar focused on mycotoxins and latest research results and recent advances in the development of technologies for rapid analysis of mycotoxins. The event gathered together 40 food safety and mycotoxin experts from companies, authorities, universities and research institutes. Issues related to consumer health as well as financial losses for the industry caused by contaminated food batches are creating strong demand for new and rapid analysis methods said Principal Chief Scientist Harri Siitari from VTT in his opening talk.

Professor Chris Elliot from Queen´s University of Belfast gave an overview of the latest development in the rapid method research. Multiplex analysis and portable devices have been developed and some commercial products are starting to appear on the market.

Detection of masked and conjugated mycotoxins is challenging and there are development needs in that area concluded Research scientist Alexis Nathanail from Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira in his talk. Senior scientist Marika Jestoi from Evira presented an overview of the current status of the regulatory issues related to mycotoxins. Due to sample matrix and conjugated mycotoxins detection of mycotoxins is challenging.

Principal scientist Arja Laitila presented main findings of the SAFECEREAL project financed by Agricultural and Forest Ministry of Finland. The main focus in the joint project of MTT, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and VTT was examination of life-cycle of toxigenic Fusarium fungi and issues related to the initiation of the toxic gene synthesis. Transcriptional profiling provided novel information on Fusarium gene expression related to growth and mycotoxin synthesis in the field conditions. The initiation of the mycotoxin synthesis is a complex process with still many open questions. In addition, variations in annual weather conditions have an important impact on the growth and versatility of the fungal species and mycotoxin production.

Principal scientist Tarja Nevanen from VTT presented the Improved analytical tools for the detection of harmful food components, mycotoxins – Mycodetect project which started two years ago. In this Tekes funded project VTT, Evira, Verifin and Customs laboratory from Finland together with international partners Queens University of Belfast (Northern Ireland), IFA-Tulln (Austria), Politecnico Milani (Italy) and Molecular Sciences Institute (USA) and industrial partners Brewing laboratory, ThermoFisher Scientific, Pribori and Labmaster are developing new fast diagnostics for the screening of the presence of mycotoxins in high-throughput manner from abundant sample amount. The project also examines effect of processing on masked mycotoxins and develops new analysis for masked mycotoxins.

The need for harmonisation of sampling was addressed in the discussions. Sampling and sample preparation are critical steps since failure to achieve satisfactory verified results can lead to unacceptable lots being accepted or satisfactory loads being unnecessarily rejected. In the future resources should also be allocated to prevention of mycotoxin formation already in the field or eradication of mycotoxins from contaminated lots. There is a need for development of rapid field-tests analysis methods for early detection of mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi. Targeted preventive actions can guarantee high-quality raw materials for the complex food chain.

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