Codes of practice to help UK farmers reduce the levels of mycotoxins in cereals could improve the safety of the ingredient supply chain.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) codes, which are targeted at establishing better production through changes to cultivation and storage practices, come in response to a new EU recommendation.
As the regulatory body for food safety in the UK, the FSA is responsible for the implementation and application of EU legislation.
Mycotoxins are toxic substances produced by some fungi, and can be hazardous to human and animal health, even at low concentrations.
Mycotoxins can be present our diet as a result of the growth of specific fungi on food crops, either in the field or in storage.
The first code of practice deals with the reduction of fusarium mycotoxins in the field, while the second details practices to minimise the formation of ochratoxin A in stored grain.
The two documents were produced under the FSA research project 'Code of Practice to reduce fusarium and ochratoxin A in cereals'.
In December, the FSA proposed a more harmonised approach to the enforcement of contaminants levels across the EU, which would help to promote consistent and effective regulation by reducing uncertainty or dispute in interpreting results against limits.
The draft Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2007 would provide enforcement authorities and industry with the necessary legal framework to ensure compliance with EU measures setting maximum levels for specific contaminants.
The EU-wide directive on contaminants is part of the legislative push to increase the safety of the food chain, by cutting down the levels of chemical residues found in products, including those used as pesticides or as part of the processing cycle.
The European Commission revised the directive last year to widen the scope of limits on heavy metals and mycotoxins in foods, among other changes. The new regulation consolidated and replaced European Commission regulation 466/2001 and its previous amendments.
The Commission is also in the process of replacing the sampling and analysis directives with new regulations. The proposals set maximum levels for nitrates in spinach, lettuce, baby foods and processed cereal based food for infants and young children.