"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Aflatoxins - more testing discovers more food contamination

Aflatoxin M1 is the hydroxylated metabolite of aflatoxin B1 and is a contaminant in milk obtained from animals eating contaminated feedstock. Aflatoxins are potent liver carcinogens and DNA -damaging agents. The MI metabolite has known mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic activity.

Aflatoxin B1 is often / usually found to be derived from the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus in crops stored in high humidity and also on crops harvested in drought conditions as plants infection resistance is lowered.

On Tuesday the Cyprus Milk Industry Organisation was making its quarterly inspection for aflatoxin and discovered high and unacceptable levels in milk which resulted in the destruction of over 100 tons of milk from 53 farms.

The Cyprus Cattle Farmers’ Organisation said yesterday it suspected the contamination had occurred from maize imported from India which had been used to feed livestock. It is widely estimated that 25% of the world's food crops are contaminated by moulds that can produce toxic or cancer-causing substances.

This is not wholly unexpected as a sttudy in 4 Italian cities in 1995 of 159 samples of milk, 97 samples of dry milk for infant formula, and 114 samples of yogurt were randomly collected in supermarkets and drug stores and tested for aflatoxin M1. It was detected in 136 (86%) of the milk samples (in amounts ranging from < 1 ng/liter to 108.5 ng/liter; mean level: 10.19 ng/liter), in 81 (84%) of the dry milk samples (in amounts ranging from < 1 ng/liter to 101.3 ng/kg; mean level: 21.77 ng/kg), and in 91 (80%) of the yogurt samples (in amounts ranging
from <>only 3 samples exceeded Swiss guidelines (regarded as the most stringent) for contamination.

It is interesting that in this Italian survey there was a seasonal variation as samples collected November to April were approximately 4 times as high as those in samples collected in the period of May to October.

In 2007 The Government Chemist tested 13 samples submitted for the determination of aflatoxins: varieties of nuts, chillies, figs, and compound products, namely pistachio nougat and peanut bites. In all cases completed in 2007, the government chemist confirmed the results of the official control laboratory, and the food consignment was re-exported.

On Friday May 23rd the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA)issued notices that ther had been an observed increase in aflatoxins from Turkish dried fruits - fig paste and recommended testing in accordanace with Commission Regulation (EC) 401/2006. They have written again to companies about sampling dried fig imports or dried fig-based products from Turkey for aflatoxins.

As global grain stores dwindle we must expect the "food consignment was re-exported" consignments cropping up somewhere. Eternal vigilance.


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