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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331547

Research Project: Biocontrol Interventions for High-Value Agricultural Commodities

Location: Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research

Title: A risk assessment of dietary ochratoxin A in the United States

item MITCHELL, NICOLE - Michigan State University
item CHEN, CHEN - Michigan State University
item Palumbo, Jeffrey - Jeff
item BIANCHINI, ANDREIA - University Of Nebraska
item STRATTON, JAYNE - University Of Nebraska
item CAPPOZZO, JACK - Illinois Institute Of Technology
item RYU, DOJIN - University Of Idaho
item WU, FELICIA - Michigan State University

Submitted to: Food and Chemical Toxicology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/29/2016
Publication Date: 2/1/2017
Citation: Mitchell, N.J., Chen, C., Palumbo, J.D., Bianchini, A., Stratton, J., Cappozzo, J., Ryu, D., Wu, F. 2017. A risk assessment of dietary ochratoxin A in the United States. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 100(2017):265-273. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2016.12.037.

Interpretive Summary: Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a fungal toxin that can be found in different foods and beverages. The dietary intake of OTA is regulated in several countries, but no regulatory limit has been established in the US. The intent of this study was to assess the risk that OTA may present to consumers in the US, by collecting samples of at-risk commodities from large and small grocery stores and food suppliers and analyzing them for their OTA content. The foods that contained measurable amounts of OTA were raisins, breakfast cereals, baby cereals and cocoa. Based on dietary intake of these foods, we calculated that in general, OTA exposure in the US is low. However, infants and children who eat large amounts of oat-based cereals are at risk for exposure to higher-than-tolerable amounts of OTA, suggesting that efforts should be made to reduce OTA contamination of oats in the US.

Technical Abstract: Background: Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a mycotoxin (fungal toxin) found in multiple foodstuffs. Because OTA has been shown to cause kidney disease in multiple species, several governmental bodies around the world have set maximum allowable levels of OTA in different foods and beverages. Objectives: In this study, we conducted an exposure and risk assessment of OTA for the United States’ population. Methods: A variety of commodities from grocery stores across the US were sampled for OTA over a 2-year period. OTA exposure was calculated from the OTA contamination levels in foodstuffs and consumption data for different age ranges. We calculated the margin of safety (MOS) for individual age groups across all commodities of interest. Results: Most food and beverage samples were found to have non-detectable OTA; however, some samples of dried fruits, breakfast cereals, infant cereals, and cocoa had detectable OTA. On average, none of the Americans in any age category consumed OTA at levels above the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) set by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA): 100 ng/kg bw/week. However, among infants and children who were heavier consumers (top 95%) of oat-based cereals, exposure was above this PTWI. The MOS was <1 for the consumers population of =12 months and >1-5 years age groups; indicating high priority for mitigation of risk. Conclusions: In the US, OTA exposure is highest in infants and young children who consume large amounts of oat-based cereals. Risk mitigation should focus on reducing this mycotoxin in oat products.