2009-2010 Aflatoxin in Dried Figs and Dried Dates

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards. The main objective of the aflatoxin survey was to provide baseline surveillance data regarding aflatoxin levels in dried figs and in dried dates.

One hundred (49 dried dates, 51 dried figs) samples were collected and analysed in this targeted survey. The samples originated from 11 different countries. The main import countries targeted included Turkey, Greece and the USA for figs and USA, Iran and Tunisia for dates. Samples were analysed for aflatoxin residues using a multi-residue method that detects the aflatoxin forms B1, B2, G1 and G2. The levels of both the individual aflatoxin forms and total aflatoxin levels were reported.

All of the 49 (100%) dried date samples and 47 of 51 (92%) dried fig samples did not contain detectable levels of aflatoxin residues. Four dried fig samples contained aflatoxin levels ranging from 7.5 to 78.7 ppb.

The EU has a proposed 4 ppb limit for directly consumed dried fruits and a proposed 10 ppb limit for dried fruit intended for further processing. However, neither Canada nor Codex has established a Maximum Limit (ML) for aflatoxins in dried fruits. In light of this, all positive results were referred to the designated CFIA program for appropriate follow-up actions. These actions may include notification of the producer or importer, follow-up inspections, additional directed sampling, and product recalls.

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