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Scientific Opinion on the risk for public and animal health related to the presence of sterigmatocystin in food and feed

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Wiley Online Library

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked by the European Commission to deliver a scientific opinion on sterigmatocystin (STC) in food and feed. STC is a polyketide mycotoxin that shares its biosynthetic pathway with aflatoxins. Following an EFSA call for data, analytical results from 247 food and 334 feed samples were submitted. In food, analytical results on STC were reported to be all below the limit of detection or limit of quantification. In feed, only four quantified results were reported. Therefore, the EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) concluded that the available occurrence data are too limited to carry out a reliable human and animal dietary exposure assessment. Acute oral toxicity of STC is relatively low, and liver and kidneys are the target organs. STC is mutagenic in both bacterial and mammalian cells after metabolic activation and forms DNA adducts. Tumourigenicity has been observed after oral, intraperitoneal, subcutaneous and dermal administration resulting in hepatocellular carcinomas, haemangiosarcomas in the liver, angiosarcomas in brown fat and lung adenomas. Since no exposure data were available, the margin of exposure approach for substances that are genotoxic and carcinogenic could not be applied for STC, and thus the CONTAM Panel could not characterise the risk for human health. Regarding animals, the Panel noted that STC is hepatotoxic in poultry and pigs, and nephrotoxic in poultry and toxic in several fish species. However, in the absence of exposure data for livestock, fish and companion animals, and given the limited knowledge on the adverse effects of STC, the CONTAM Panel could not characterise the risk for animal health. More occurrence data on STC in food and feed need to be collected to allow dietary exposure assessment. For food, methods with a limit of quantification of less than 1.5 µg/kg should be applied.