The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is seeking feedback from interested parties on its scientific opinion about public health risks related to the presence of ochratoxin A (OTA) in food. OTA is a mycotoxin naturally produced by fungi such as the Penicillium and Aspergillus species and is found in a variety of foods including grains and grain products, preserved meats, and fresh and dried fruits. It is also found in breast milk.

The EFSA previously assessed public health risks related to OTA in food in 2006. Experts concluded that OTA accumulates in the kidney and is particularly toxic to this organ. At high doses OTA also causes kidney tumors in rats. The EFSA set a tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 120 nanograms per kilogram of body weight.

Since that time, more information has become available suggesting that OTA may be genotoxic and carcinogenic. In such cases, EFSA experts calculate a margin of exposure (MOE) for consumers. In general, the higher the MOE, the lower the level of concern for consumers. The estimated MOE for OTA is below 10,000 across most consumer groups, suggesting a possible health concern.

The deadline for submitting comments is Jan. 24, 2020.

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