FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives report

  • 13th September 2017
  • by secretary

Eighty-third report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives
pdf 1003.75Kb
Editors: World Health Organization
Number of pages: 182
Publication date: 2017
Languages: English
ISBN: 9789241210027

This report represents the conclusions of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee convened to evaluate the safety of various contaminants or groups of contaminants in food. The first part of the report contains a brief description of general considerations addressed at the meeting, including updates on matters of interest to the work of the Committee.

“While the full monograph of the 83rd JECFA is not yet available (‘the yellow book’), the detailed summary (‘blue book’) deserves the attention of all those involved in the health and agricultural aspects of the mycotoxins considered.

Aflatoxin had not been done since 1998 and it was time for a major review. At the time of drafting (one year ago), there were 11,000 scientific publications in PubMed on aflatoxin, almost twice the number available at the 49th JECFA (JECFA, 1999). The database of the American Chemistry Society recorded 28,000 publications on aflatoxin. Two important things I would note is that unlike the previous monograph there is an explicit acknowledgement of the plight of countries with potentially high exposures to aflatoxin in terms of acute aflatoxicosis. The second important thing is that the panel concluded that aflatoxin was associated with stunting, although more well-conducted studies are needed to understand the exposure required. The monograph discusses the available exposure data on a global basis and a new and thoughtful discussion of the interaction of hepatitis B and aflatoxin in relation to liver cancer.

The other broadly important thing about the 83rd JECFA is that there is a separate chapter on the interaction of fumonisin and aflatoxin. It is clear that co-exposure to fumonisin and aflatoxin is not the exception, rather it is the norm in countries that depend on maize for starch calories in highly affected regions (Africa, parts of Latin America, East Asia). The available evidence in relevant laboratory animals suggested an additive or synergistic effect of fumonisin and aflatoxin co-exposure in the development of pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions.

The team working on the full monograph was ably led by Dr. Angelika Tritscher (WHO) as well as Drs. Markus Lipp and Vittorio Fattori (FAO).” Prof. David Miller, member of the panel of the FAO/WHO report