According to new data released by the Fera (the UK’s reference laboratory for chemicals in foods) HorizonScan service, Pesticides (13.5%), Salmonella (11.1%) and mycotoxins (7.1%) were the most frequently reported food contaminants globally over the last quarter.
However, taken as a category, it was microbial contaminants that accounted for the highest number of reports (approximately 25%) of food safety, quality and authenticity issues. Listeria, veterinary drugs and non-permitted food colours also featured in the top ten individual food contaminants.
The Fera data highlights mycotoxins as a particular risk in the food supply chain, citing warmer and wetter summer weather as a factor likely to increase the likelihood of contamination with these potentially carcinogenic toxins.
The food types most likely to be contaminated included fish, meat and dairy products, nuts, wines and bakery products. Specific emerging risks were identified as Salmonella in sesame seeds from India, veterinary drugs in Malaysian prawns and pesticide contamination in lemons from Turkey.