Chestnuts, nuts, dates and figs are very popular snacks in the cold season of the year and also as ingredients in baked goods. They are tested by AGES for compliance with food law regulations on a regular basis, to ensure that they are safe.
One hundred nuts, dates, figs or chestnuts are used to determine the spoilage percentage. Spoilage is the number of fruit that are rancid, mouldy, dried out or damaged by insects. Code Chapter/B4/Fruit IV. Edition of the Austrian Food Codex lists the permitted levels of spoilage for the chosen foods (nuts 15%, dates and figs 18%, chestnuts 20%) that must not be exceeded. If the permitted level of spoilage is exceeded, the good is considered “unsafe – unfit for human consumption” and the Food Safety Authorities will undertake the appropriate measures that could range from a product recall to the destruction of the good in question.
Nuts and dried fruits are tested for mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A) on a regular basis. These are harmful metabolic substances produced by various types of moulds. Mycotoxins are mostly heat-resistant and are not destroyed during cooking and baking.
Another key element in regards to dried fruit is preservation with sulphuric acid. Dried fruit may be preserved using sulphuric acid according to Regulation (EC) No. 1129/2011 on food additives. However, the regulation prescribes a maximum level of sulphuric acid that is monitored by AGES at regular intervals. Sulphur dioxide and sulphites may cause intolerance reactions in sensitive individuals. This must be marked clearly on the packaging when levels reach a minimum of 10mg/kg.
Tip before Consumption
Dried fruit should be opened or halved before eating. Thus, mouldy fruit or fruit infested with insects can be separated.