FSA News Item, 2 April 2008
The Agency has this week written to companies that import dried figs or dried fig-based products from Turkey , recommending additional testing for aflatoxins.
This follows a meeting with UK importers, manufacturers and Turkish government officials to discuss a number of alerts across the EU this year relating to batches of these products from Turkey containing levels of aflatoxins that are higher than permitted under EU law. Although the levels found in these batches breach EU law, they are of low risk to consumers.
Dried figs imported from Turkey are tested to confirm that aflatoxin levels are below the legal limit. However, on occasions, further testing has found that some of the figs have exceeded legal levels. The distribution of these have been prevented.
Dried figs are sold loose and sometimes used as an ingredient in other products such as some types of biscuits.
In order to further protect consumer safety, the Agency is recommending that companies consider testing any Turkish fig consignment under their own testing regime.
What are aflatoxins?
Aflatoxins are a type of toxin found naturally in some foods. They are produced by certain moulds that grow on foods in tropical and sub-tropical countries. There maybe an increased risk of cancer in people whose diets include high levels of aflatoxins. For this reason, in the UK and the rest of the EU, there are legal limits for aflatoxins in foods, to make sure that people take in as little of them as possible.
A copy of the letter sent to food businesses is available on this site. See: Aflatoxins in Turkish Fig Paste