Mycotoxins in food

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute monitor the occurrence of mycotoxin producing molds and mycotoxins in food on assignment from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

The aim of the surveillance program is to monitor the occurrence of mycotoxins which may be a significant health threat in food stuff of vegetable origin.


Several mycotoxins, with emphasis on trichothecenes and ergot alkaloids as well as the ergot fungus Claviceps purpurea were analysed in samples of wheat and rye for human consumption collected from mills and food stores during 2017. The aim of the programme was to survey the mycotoxin status of Norwegian whole and milled wheat and rye and C. purpurea in whole wheat and rye in 2017.

In wheat, deoxynivalenol (DON) was present at insignificant concentrations and other trichothecenes and zearalenone were hardly detectable. In rye, these mycotoxins were generally not detected. Ergot alkaloids were, however, detected in some samples and at a similar level in wheat and rye. The highest measured concentrations of ergot alkaloids are worth attention, but there is no regulation for them and the knowledge base for risk assessment is scarce. The producer of ergot alkaloids, C. purpurea, was detected in about half of the wheat samples and in most samples of rye of which one sample above the maximum limit in EU and Norway (500 mg/kg). However, no ergot alkaloids were found in the sample with C. purpurea above maximum level, and no significant correlations were found between ergot alkaloids and C. purpurea in wheat nor in rye. Regulation of ergot alkaloid levels instead of on C. purpurea sclerotia would improve the risk management.

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