Summary of the chapter

Environmental and food mycotoxins

Sari M. Arponen

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by multiple species of fungi that can be ingested or inhaled by humans and other animals. They are ubiquitous especially in cereals, nuts and dehydrated fruit. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the Spanish one (AECOSAN) perform surveillance and control measures to maintain mycotoxin concentrations in food and feed below the established limits.

However, it is very difficult to assess the possible adverse effects of several concurrent mycotoxins present simultaneously in food even below the authorized limits, or the synergy with other toxic factors such as endocrine disruptors. Moreover the interactions of mycotoxins with the human microbiota influence the effect and severity of mycotoxicosis. Additionally climate change is a new threat that potentially could increase mould infestation of agricultural products by mycotoxin-producing fungi.