Aflatoxin-contaminated nuts and seeds dominated mycotoxin notifications made through the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) between 2011 and 2021, according to a recent study.

RASFF is a platform for exchanging information about food safety incidents between EU Member States. For the present study, the researchers aimed to discover the extent to which nuts were responsible for RASFF mycotoxin notifications in recent years. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites that present serious threats to public health, and the most prevalent, toxic, and carcinogenic mycotoxins observed in human food and animal feed are aflatoxins.

The researchers searched RASFF mycotoxin notifications made form 2011–2021. Of the total 4,752 mycotoxin notifications that were published on RASFF for food products worldwide, 63 percent (3,000) were attributed to “nuts, nut products, and seeds.” A further 95 percent (2,669) of these notifications were due to the presence of aflatoxins. Border rejection was reported for 91 percent (2,560) of nuts and nut products that received notifications.

More than half (52 percent) of the 2,669 nut and seed aflatoxin notifications were reported for groundnuts (also known as peanuts), 29 percent of which originated from China. Pistachios received the most notifications (10 percent) of any tree nuts, followed by hazelnuts (5 percent), almonds (0.7 percent), and Brazil nuts (0.1 percent).