Observations on Aflatoxin Detection and Control Activities of Federal, State, and Private Organizations

T-RCED-90-60: Published: Apr 2, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 2, 1990.

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GAO discussed the relative food safety risk of aflatoxin, a naturally occurring toxin produced by a common fungus, focusing on aflatoxin detection and control and the extent of aflatoxin in the U.S. corn crop. GAO noted that: (1) food safety experts considered aflatoxin to be a serious food safety concern, ranking it less serious than microbial and environmental contaminants and more serious than pesticide residues and additives; (2) aflatoxin could enter the food supply directly through such products as peanut butter or corn meal or indirectly in the milk or meat of animals eating aflatoxin-contaminated feed; (3) the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not believe the U.S. food supply to be at risk of dangerously high aflatoxin levels; (4) aflatoxin testing was difficult because of the large volume of grain involved and other testing problems; (5) various federal, state, and private groups had testing and quality control procedures to ensure food safety, market efficiency, and profitability; (6) FDA did not monitor all affected foods and feeds for aflatoxin, but did require food and feed manufacturers to comply with product quality control regulations; and (7) there was not adequate information to determine the extent of aflatoxin contamination in the U.S. corn crop.

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