Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by mould fungi that have various toxic effects on humans and animals. The FAO estimates that up to 25 percent of global food production is contaminated by mycotoxins. About 20 percent of the EU’s grain harvest contains measurable amounts of mycotoxins. They are mostly heat resistant and are usually not destroyed during food processing.
The Department for Contaminant Analysis (KONA; formerly Competence Centre Cluster Chemistry) of AGES, which is part of the Institute for Food Safety in Linz, has been responsible for conducting the tasks of a National Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins since 2006. The KONA Department applies innovative multi-methods using LC-MS/MS, which are being developed further on a continuous basis, in addition to classical and partly standardised analysis procedures.
The EU Joint Research Centre runs the EU-RL “European Union Reference Laboratory for mycotoxins” at the site of the “Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements” (IRMM) in Geel/Belgium. The National Reference Laboratories of the individual Member States support this Community Reference Laboratory in its tasks and prove their high levels of competence at proficiency tests and workshops held by the EU-RL on a regular basis.