National Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins in Feed and Food
Health Risks from Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins
Even small amounts of mycotoxins or plant toxins can cause acute poisoning in humans and animals, as well as chronic health damage in case of long-term exposure. The main intake pathway is through food consumption. In the case of animal feed, it must also be taken into account that toxins contained in feed can also be transferred into food of animal origin.
It is therefore a goal of consumer health protection to keep human and animal exposure to mycotoxins and plant toxins via food and animal feed as low as possible.
Main Areas of Work of the National Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins in Food and Animal Feed
The legal basis for official controls and for the National Reference Laboratories (NRL) of all EU member states and the European Reference Laboratories (EURL) is Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and Council of March 15, 2017 on official controls and other official activities to ensure the application of food and feed law and the regulations on animal health and welfare, as well as plant health and plant protection products (“EU Control Regulation”).
The implementation of the Control Regulation serves to ensure consumer health protection and aims to keep the exposure of humans and animals to mycotoxins and plant toxins via food and feed as low as possible. This means that the official food and feed control, which is supported by the National Reference Laboratories in the member states of the European Union, are of great importance.
The NRLs are subordinate to the European Reference Laboratories of the EU (EURL), which work together with the National Reference Laboratories and ensure that the NRLs of the member states are collaborating in a networkwith view to their respective areas of responsibility.
The main tasks of the National Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins in Food and Animal Feed are:
- Collaboration with the EU Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Mycotoxins and Plant Toxins
- Participation in training courses and inter-laboratory tests organised by the EURL
- Coordinating the activities of official laboratories with the aim of harmonising and improving laboratory analysis methods and their use
- Development and validation of analytical methods for the determination of plant toxins and mycotoxins in food and feed
- Organising and conducting regular inter-laboratory proficiency tests and method validation studies, including pursuing appropriate follow-up measures and informing the competent authorities on the results and taken measures
- Support in monitoring the quality of reagents and providing information on the availability of reference substances and their sources
- Distribution of information from the EURL to the competent German authorities and the national laboratories working within official food and feed monitoring that are commissioned with analytical testing
- Scientific and technical support for the competent authorities in the implementation of control programs, e.g. through regular workshops and participation in committees on food monitoring and the national monitoring plan
- Completion of necessary training for personnel working in official laboratories
- Harmonisation and standardisation of analytical methods, e.g. by participating in bodies of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) or working groups according to §64 of the German Food and Feed Code