The mission headed by Mr Rafael Berbejal will assess the control systems that are in place in India to prevent aflatoxin contamination in peanuts intended for export to EU countries. He is accompanied by Mr Niall Gerlitz and Mr Pedro Burdaspal Perez.
India currently exports about 30-35,000 tonne of peanuts annually to EU of which about 10% goes for direct human consumption and rest for processing and bird food. The FVO mission has already submitted its peanut report on China and a similar report on Argentina is soon expected.
The mission visited groundnut processing units in Gujarat (the groundnut bowl of India), laboratories carrying out the sampling analysis of groundnut export consignments to the EU countries, Groundnut Research Institute and groundnut farms apart from meeting concerned customs/ government officials at Nhava Sheva & Mundra and port facilities.
While welcoming the EU team, Mr Sanjiv Sawla, chairman, Indian Oilseeds & Produce Exporters Association (IOPEA), co-ordinating agency along with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) stressed the need for better quality standards at the local level and not just for the export industry.
Aflatoxins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus; but most notably Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins are toxic and carcinogenic to animals, including humans. After entering the body, aflatoxins are metabolised by the liver to an intermediate reactive, aflatoxin M1, an epoxide.
Aspergillus is common and widespread in nature and are most often found when crops are exposed to a high humidity environment over a long period of time or are damaged in stressful conditions such as drought, a condition which lowers the barrier to entry. The native habitat of Aspergillus is in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains undergoing microbiological deterioration and it invades all types of organic substrates whenever and wherever the conditions are favourable for its growth. Favourable conditions include high moisture content (at least 7%) and high temperature.