Scientific information on mycotoxins and natural plant toxicants.

Paola Battilani, L. G. Costa, A. Dossena, M. L. Gullino, R. Marchelli, G. Galaverna, Amedeo Pietri, C. Dall'Asta, Paola Giorni, D. Spadaro, Alessia Gualla

Research output: Other contribution


Undesirable substances such as mycotoxins and natural toxicants can be present in plants and derived products thereof. Depending on the nature and the concentration levels of the compound, these might be of concern for human and/or animal health. Risk assessments on the natural plant toxicant morphine in poppy seeds and the selected mycotoxins: alternaria toxins, moniliformin, diacetoxyscirpenol, sterigmatocystin and phomopsins in food and feed, ergot alkaloids in food and nivalenol in feed have not been carried out at the European level. Therefore it is expected that the European Commission may ask EFSA to assess the risks to human and animal health related to these substances in the near future. To carry out these risk assessments to the highest standards and in an efficient way scientific background information e.g. chemistry, occurrence, toxicokinetics and toxicity on these selected mycotoxins and plant toxicant are needed. The project CFP/EFSA/CONTAM/2008/01 “Scientific information on mycotoxins and natural plant toxicants” reports this information in the present report. The report presents information regarding a plant toxicant, morphine, in poppy seeds, and some mycotoxins, in particular Alternaria toxins in food and feed, Ergot alkaloids in food, moniliformin in food and feed, nivalenol in feed, diacetoxyscirpenol in food and feed, sterigmatocystin in food and feed and phomopsins in food and feed. After a short introduction, fungi involved in the production of each specific mycotoxin are described. Physico-chemical characteristics, biosynthesis and chemical analisis are then discussed for all toxins. Occurrence data are presented, taking into account all products in which the mycotoxins have been reported. Mitigation, intended as all actions that can be taken in the pre- and post-harvest periods to reduce the contamination of the final products are discussed. Pharmacokinetic aspects (absorption, distribution and excretion, metabolism and carry-over), as well as toxicity (acute and chronic), are also discussed, based on available information in animals and in humans. This report represents the state-of-the-art knowledge on the toxic compounds included, and provides information useful to the scientific community to face the risks and challenges of mycotoxins and plant natural toxicants. 3 - 467 The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as author(s). In accordance with Article 36 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, this task has been carried out exclusively by the author(s) in the context of a grant agreement between the European Food Safety Authority and the author(s). The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the European Food Safety Authority is subject. It may not be considered as an output adopted by EFSA. EFSA reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors. As a general conclusion it can be underlined that for all compounds considered there is a common lack of knowledge which can be summarised as follows: • Detailed knowledge on fungi involved and their interaction with host crops • Validated analytical methods and reference materials • Detailed surveys in different countries and different years • Specific sampling methods • Detailed and updated knowledge on pharmacokinetics and toxicity
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • alternaria toxins
  • diacetoxyscirpenol
  • ergot alkaloids
  • feed
  • food
  • moniliform
  • morphine
  • mycotoxins
  • natural plant toxicants
  • nivalenol
  • phomopsins
  • scientific information
  • sterigmatocystin


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