Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a mycotoxin, considered to be a genotoxic carcinogen, and therefore possible exposure to OTA should be reduced as much as possible. A threshold limit is not yet fixed for wine, but values in the range of 0.2 µg/kg to 1 µg/kg are suggested as a potential limit. OTA was signalled in wine and grape juice since 1996. Samples from Southern Europe were mainly contaminated; red wines were more frequently found positive with higher levels than white ones. The species of fungi responsible for OTA presence in grape are not yet know, neither are the conditions which favour OTA synthesis. The few results available point out that the species are different from those found in cereals. But Aspergillus niger group may play an important role. OTA in wine is a consistent problem for Europe which has about 40% of the world areas planted in vines (2.8 millions of ha) and 75% of wine production (190 millions of hl); yearly wine consumption is about 150 millions of hl (about 75% of world production) with a mean of 29.39 litres per capita, which exceed 50 litres in some countries. In addition, the OTA-content in wine can exceed 10 µg/kg, which is 10 times higher than the suggested threshold.
The aim of this multidisciplinary project is to assess the real risk of presence of ochratoxin A (OTA) in grape and wine and to reduce the intake of OTA from grapes and wine. This will be pursued by using the HACCP concept, identifying the key elements for OTA in grape and wine, and providing tools for preventive and corrective actions, according to an integrated approach.
- The ochratoxin A producing fungi in grape grown in the Mediterranean basin are identified and molecularly characterised;
- Definition of the CCP for infection with OTA producing fungi related to the host;
- Identification of critical key steps of winemaking for OTA carry-over in wine;
- List of useful products and guidelines to reduce OTA in grape, must and wine;
- Risk assessment for OTA presence in grape and wine;
- ?Development of a decision support system (DSS) for integrated management of grape.