Risk Asessment and Intervention Strategies for the Emerging Food Safety Threat of Ochratoxin in the United States
Several toxigenic fungi in the genus Aspergillus and Penicillium are known to contaminate agricultural crops and produce ochratoxin A (OTA), a possible human carcinogen. While OTA has been associated with nephropathic diseases in animals and humans, its nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic, immunosuppressive, mutagenic, and teratogenic potency has been shown in animal studies. Due to the diverse growth characteristics, the toxigenic fungi and OTA have been found in exceptionally wide variety of agricultural commodities worldwide including cereal grains, nuts, dried fruits, spices, meat, milk, and many processed foods made from these commodities including wine, beer, infant formula and baby foods. Most studies on OTA in food have been conducted in European countries where OTA levels are regulated. Currently, no regulation for OTA in foods has been set in the
U.S. and there is an urgent need for up-to-date information on the incidence and levels of OTA as the international trade of agricultural products has been increased dramatically to meet the changing consumer demand. We propose this project to provide data on the emerging OTA issues by comprehensive national survey followed by health risk assessment of foodborne OTA for general public and high-risk population. We will also investigate effective strategies to reduce the exposure of public from OTA.