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Published: 21 February 2014  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & foodFood safety & health risks
International cooperation
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Argentina  |  Austria  |  Belgium  |  Denmark  |  Egypt  |  France  |  Germany  |  Hungary  |  Italy  |  Mexico  |  Netherlands  |  Nigeria  |  Russia  |  South Africa  |  Spain  |  Turkey  |  United Kingdom
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Innovation against fungal toxins for safer food

EU-funded research to reduce poisonous mycotoxins in agricultural produce has led to tests and services for safer food and feed. A follow-on project is developing a decision-support tool to help farmers and SMEs reduce contamination throughout the supply chain.

Photo of a bowl of cereal

© Christian Jung - fotolia.com

Update: 17 November 2017

Mycotoxins are potentially deadly fungi that infest food and feed crops, harming humans and animals and causing losses for farmers and food processors. In the MYCORED project, researchers developed production and processing methods that reduce mycotoxin contamination in common cereal, nuts and fruit crops.

Methods focused on new food production and handling procedures from field to market. Researchers identified points in food chains where there was a risk of contamination and then designed measures to reduce these risks.

Innovations for crops in the field include mycotoxin-resistant plants, improved fungicide use, and biological control agents – bacteria, safe fungi and yeast – that avoid the need for chemicals. Post-harvest technologies used ozone gas and natural antifungal compounds, atmospheric sensors and chemical tests to detect infestation and light waves to limit fungal growth.

Significant impact

The project had a significant impact – on the scientific international community as well as stakeholders, policymakers and industry, says project coordinator Antonio Logrieco of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy.

Some of its results have been used to develop and validate mycotoxin detection kits and official methods for mycotoxin analysis, he says.

“We also now have agreements with feed companies for mycotoxin detoxifying agents and with the US international development agency (USAID) for mycotoxin analysis of samples from Afghanistan and Nepal.”

The follow-on H2020 project, MYCOKEY, is developing an app to help farmers, SMEs and other stakeholders prevent and remove mycotoxin contamination, says Logrieco.

“It will integrate innovative key actions into a user-friendly, cheap application that provides real-time information and suggestions for mycotoxin management.”

Other studies linked to MYCORED are investigating new methods of preventing contamination of food and feed during processing and storage, he adds.

In addition, new sustainable technologies inspired by MYCORED’s outcomes are being developed by project partners and others to monitor toxigenic fungi, analyse and prevent mycotoxin contamination and risk, and remove infection, he says.

Project details

  • Project acronym: MYCORED
  • Participants: Italy (Coordinator), United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary, France, Turkey, Russian Federation, Egypt, Nigeria, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Belgium, South Africa
  • Project N°: 222690
  • Total costs: € 7 372 847
  • EU contribution: € 5 769 956
  • Duration: April 2009 to September 2013

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Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia