2008-2009 Patulin in Apple Juice Products

Executive Summary

Patulin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by fungi from the Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Paecilomyces species. The main source of patulin in the human diet is apple juice. The 2008-2009 Patulin in Apple Juice Products study was undertaken in order to determine whether patulin concentrations in apple juice were being sufficiently monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) regular programs. Specifically, the study was designed to:

  • Assess compliance of apple juice manufacturers with international guidelines
  • Provide patulin concentration data for risk assessment

The 104 samples of apple juice and apple juice concentrate (94 imported, 10 domestic) were collected from distributors and importers across Canada. These samples were analysed for patulin by a CFIA laboratory.

Overall, the results of this study indicate that 88.5% of the samples had patulin levels below the reporting limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb). Of the 44 apple juice samples collected, 37 samples (84%) had patulin concentrations below 10 ppb. Fifty five of the 60 samples (92%) of apple juice concentrates had patulin concentrations below 10 ppb. The highest measured level of patulin was 26.7 ppb in apple juice and 24.0 ppb in apple juice concentrates. All of the samples were below the Codex draft maximum level of 50 ppb for patulin.

There was no difference in compliance rate between imported and domestic products nor was there any relationship between country of origin and the measured patulin level. No difference in patulin concentration was observed between apple juice and apple juice concentrate.

The results of this study indicate that patulin levels in apple juice in Canada do not currently present a risk to the health of children or to the general population of Canada. Therefore, further targeted studies of patulin in apple juice products will not likely be undertaken unless additional information becomes available pointing to a need for a targeted survey. However, as the protection of the health of Canadian children is a priority for the CFIA, the CFIA will continue to monitor patulin levels in apple juice products through its regular monitoring activities.

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