Task of the European Union Reference Laboratory mycotoxins & plant toxins
The EURL mycotoxins & plant toxins is the interface between the European Commission (DG SANTÉ) and the National Reference Laboratories in the Member States in the field of mycotoxins and plant toxins. The main task of the EURL mycotoxins & plant toxins is to ensure the availability of analytical methods for monitoring and control of mycotoxins and plant toxins in food and feed, and to ensure high quality method performance by the NRLs. In addition, the EURL mycotoxins & plant toxins provides scientific and technical assistance to the NRLs, the European Commission and other organisations. This is done through:
- method development, validation, and method comparisons for regulated and emerging toxins
- providing NRLs with details and guidance on analytical methods and analytical quality control
- organisation of inter-laboratory comparative testing or proficiency tests
- information exchange within the EURL-NRL network through workshops and training
missions to laboratories within the EU and third countries
What are mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by fungi potentially contaminating food and feed at all stages of the food supply chain. Contamination with fungi and mycotoxins depends on many factors such as agronomic management practices and climate. Some mycotoxins can be transferred from feed to products of animal origin (e.g. milk). Certain mycotoxins can have carcinogenic (liver and kidney), oestrogenic or immunotoxic effects. For a number of mycotoxins maximum limits have been set in EU legislation, while for others indicative levels or guidance values apply.
What are plant toxins?
Plant toxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by plants, often as defence mechanism against animals or pests. The toxins can be present in the leafs, root, fruits or seeds and the levels can be strongly influenced by plant species or cultivar, field conditions and climate. Plant toxins can occur in edible crops (inherent plant toxins), while others enter the food chain due to contamination of edible crops with toxic weeds. Some plant toxins can be transferred from feed to products of animal origin For a number of plant toxins, maximum limits have been set in the EU.