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Aflatoxins in Food

Aflatoxins are toxic by-products of fungal infestations of crops and dairy products. Aflatoxins of health concern are B1, B2, G1 and G2:

  • aflatoxin B1 is found in crops and is a potent liver carcinogen
  • aflatoxin M1 is the hydroxylated product of B1 and is found in the milk, faeces and urine of lactating animals following consumption of B1-contaminated feed

Aflatoxins are not destroyed by food manufacturing processes such as baking and pasteurisation. Due to these food safety risks there are international regulations governing the levels of aflatoxins in food.

NMI’s Capabilities

NMI is an appointed analyst to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Imported Food Program and our laboratories have NATA accreditation for a wide range of services:

For further information please contact customerservice@measurement.gov.au, 1300 722 845 or use our on-line form.

Aflatoxins in Nuts and Grains

NMI grinds the sample which is then sub-sampled as per statistical protocols, blended with methanolic solvent and filtered. The filtrate may be analysed:

  • semi-quantitatively using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) — limit of reporting of 0.005 mg/kg; or
  • quantitatively using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) — limit of reporting of 0.001 mg/kg

The Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code sets a maximum limit of 0.015 mg/kg for aflatoxin in nuts. Limits for export depend on the country but range from 0.001 to 0.03 mg/kg.

Appropriate sampling is critical because fungal infestations are often unevenly distributed. The European Union requires a sample size of 22 kg and USA requires 30 kg.

Aflatoxins in Milk and Dairy Products

NMI uses HPLC to analyse for aflatoxin M1 with a limit of reporting of 0.02 μg/kg.

Regulators have not set a maximum limit for imported products whilst for export:

  • Codex International Food Standards specifies a limit of 0.05 mg/kg
  • European Union specifies a limit of 0.05 μg/kg