Steps urged to reduce tainted food

By Wang Qian ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-05-21 10:27:59

"It is an invisible threat for agriculture and human health across the world," said Dai Xiaofeng, director of the institute. Dai added that climate change is making an environment more suitable for mycotoxins.

"While China is endeavoring to maintain at least a 1 percent increase in its annual grain output, mycotoxin pollution is creating huge waste of grain and crops," Dai said.

Mycotoxin pollution exists everywhere, from production to storage, and covers a variety of plants, including grain, corn, soybeans and fruit.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that 25 percent of the world's crops are affected by mycotoxins every year, with annual losses reaching about 1 billion tons of foods and food products.

General interest in mycotoxins rose in 1960 when a feed-related disease caused by aflatoxin, a main kind of mycotoxins, killed hundreds of thousands of turkeys in farms in England. Aflatoxins can cause liver damage and even liver cancer in humans.

In 2004, more than 100 people died in Kenya after they ate aflatoxin-contaminated maize.

Liu Yang, professor from the Department of Food Safety and Quality Control of the Institute of Agro-products Processing Science and Technology, said that in addition to its effect on human health, mycotoxin contamination is one of the main barriers blocking Chinese foods exported to Europe.

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