European wine production represents about 70% of world production and thus is an important export commodity. Ochratoxin A (OTA) was first detected as a wine contaminant in 1996 and the role of Aspergillus section Nigri and A. carbonarius in OTA production discovered in Europe in 1999. Subsequently Europe-wide surveys have shown that A. carbonarius is predominantly responsible for OTA contamination of grapes, wine and vine fruits. Analyses of wine samples throughout Europe have shown that there is a gradient in OTA concentration with a decrease from red, to rose and to white wines. The latitude of production is an important factor in determining risk from OTA contamination. Some geographic regions in Southern Europe are more prone to contamination with the toxigenic species and OTA. Ochratoxin A has also been found in much higher concentrations (max. 53 micro g/kg) in dried vine fruit than in wine suggesting that A. carbonarius can dominate the drying vine fruit ecosystem. There is a significant lack of knowledge in Europe on conducive climatic conditions preharvest and their relationship with levels of risk from OTA contamination in grapes and their fate in wine production. This needs to be integrated with cultivation system to maximise the prevention of OTA entering this food chain.
- EC research project
- Ochratoxin A