In order to properly evaluate the risk related to the presence of toxins in the food chain, efficient and reliable analytical procedures must continuously be developed and adapted, and this for all sorts of food and feed matrices. Sciensano has been appointed by the Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN) to lead the execution of the standardisation analytical method for citrinin. A mini-survey based on samples of red yeast rice, food and feed matrices has been conducted in Belgium, proving the potential of this method to assess the consumers’ exposure. It also provided information about the co-occurrence of another mycotoxin – ochratoxin A – in edible matrices. In 2016, a research project has been initiated in order to gather more quantitative occurrence data on citrinin in Belgium and to investigate the toxicokinetics and oral bioavailability of citrinin in some animal species, as well as its carry-over to edible tissues (CITRIRISK). For these experiments, Sciensano has prepared the reference materials contaminated with citrinin.
Assess the population’s exposure in Belgium
A validated analytical procedure is required to ensure a reliable determination of citrinin in food and feedstuffs. The standardisation works launched by the European Commission constitute an important step for gathering data whose purpose is to assess the population’s exposure in Belgium, other European countries or worldwide. Studies on the carry-over of citrinin from feed to animal products for human consumption, on the toxicokinetics and on the identification of the biomarkers of citrinin may lead to the evaluation of its toxicity and to an assessment of the organ damages in some animal species. This element is paramount to assess the risk and to develop strategies to counteract the occurrence of this mycotoxin. Reference materials are needed for animal experiments and for quality control purposes.