Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Market Quality and Handling Research

Title: Proposed draft aflatoxin sampling plans for aflatoxin contamination oin ready-to-eat treenuts and treenuts destined for futher procession: almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio, and brazil nuts

item Whitaker, Thomas

Submitted to: Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods
Publication Type: Monograph
Publication Acceptance Date: July 31, 2008
Publication Date: August 31, 2008
Repository URL:
Citation: Whitaker, T.B. 2008. Proposed draft aflatoxin sampling plans for aflatoxin contamination oin ready-to-eat treenuts and treenuts destined for futher procession: almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio, and brazil nuts. Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods. Codex Alementarius Commission CX/CF.

Interpretive Summary: The 36th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants (CCFAC) agreed to commence work on the development of sampling plans for aflatoxins in almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios, subject to approval as new work by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Committee also agreed that a working group led by the United States with the assistance of Argentina, Brazil, Iran, EC and the INC would prepare the sampling plans. The 27th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission approved the elaboration of proposed draft Sampling Plans for Aflatoxin Contamination in Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts and Pistachios as new work for the Committee (NO7-2004).

Technical Abstract: 1. Importers may commercially classify treenuts as either “ready-to-eat” (RTE) or “destined for further processing” (DFP). As a result, maximum levels and sampling plans are proposed for both commercial types of treenuts. Maximum levels need to be defined for treenuts destined for further processing and ready-to-eat treenuts before a final decision can be made about a sampling plan design. 2. Treenuts can be marketed either as inshell or shelled nuts. For example, pistachios are predominately marketed as inshell nuts while almonds are predominately marketed as shelled nuts. 3. Sampling statistics, shown in Annex I, are based upon the uncertainty and aflatoxin distribution among laboratory samples of shelled nuts. Because the shelled nut count per kg is different for each of the three treenuts, the laboratory sample size is expressed in number of nuts for statistical purposes. However, the shelled nut count per kg for each treenut, shown in Annex I, can be used to convert laboratory sample size from number of nuts to mass and vice versa. 4. Uncertainty estimates associated with sampling, sample preparation, and analysis, shown in Annex I, and the negative binomial distribution are used to calculate operating characteristic (OC) curves that describe the performance of the proposed aflatoxin-sampling plans (Annex II). 5. In Annex I, the analytical variance reflects a reproducibility relative standard deviation of 22%, which is suggested by Thompson and is based upon Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme (FAPAS) data . A relative standard deviation of 22% is considered by FAPAS as an appropriate measure of the best agreement that can be reliably obtained between laboratories. An analytical uncertainty of 22% is larger than the within laboratory variation measured in the sampling studies for the three treenuts. The within laboratory analytical uncertainty for each treenut can be found at the website 6. The issue of correcting the analytical test result for recovery is not addressed in this document. However, Table 2 specifies several performance criteria for analytical methods including suggestions for the range of acceptable recovery rates.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page