August 17, 2012, Ottawa: As part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ongoing work to ensure a safe Canadian food supply, it found that more than 900 food samples tested for Ochratoxin A (OTA) and Deoxynivalenol (DON) were safe for human consumption. No recalls were required.
The CFIA analyzed 943 food samples in 2010-2011 for OTA and DON, toxins released in food by mould. The foods included domestic and imported beverages, dried fruits, grain products, infant formula and breakfast cereals.
Overall, more than 99% of the food samples tested for OTA were below proposed levels. Health Canada assessed samples with elevated OTA levels and determined they posed no health risk to consumers.
The same study found that 59% of samples tested contained detectable levels of DON. Test results were reviewed by Health Canada and no human health concerns were identified.
This survey builds on analysis done in 2009-2010, particularly in infant cereals. While the overall results in both studies were similar, the 2010-2011 study found that OTAlevels in infant cereals were significantly lower. No consumer health concerns were identified. Further studies are underway to verify that OTA/DON levels remain safe.
OTA is produced during the storage of crops while DON is produced in crops (mainly grains) prior to harvest. Foods significantly contaminated with either could have negative health effects on the kidneys, or immune system, or cause abdominal pain, vomiting or dizziness. The CFIA and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) are working with other departments and industry to develop new production and processing methods that will minimize the presence of OTA and DON in foods.
Limits are set at levels far below the amount that could pose a health concern. This iswhy foods with residues or contaminants over maximum limits can still be safe for consumption. When there is a detection of elevated levels Health Canada completes an assessment to determine if the specific level poses a health risk, based on the contaminant’s level, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. These factors help determine whether further action is needed, up to and including product seizure and/or recall. If a human health risk is found, a public recall notice is issued immediately.
Further information on this survey report is available on the CFIA website.