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Food Safety Focus (159th Issue, October 2019) – Food Incident Highlight

Risk Assessment Study Results on Sterigmatocystin in Food

The Centre for Food Safety has recently completed a study on sterigmatocystin (STC) in food.  Over 300 samples covering 12 food groups, namely flour, breakfast cereal, dried spices, grains, pasta and noodles, bakery and pastry items, coffee beans, starch substitute, peanuts and tree nuts, cheese, beer and cured meat, were collected for testing.  About 90% of the samples were not detected with STC.  For samples detected with STC, the majority had very low levels.  Risk assessment results showed low health concern for the local population due to dietary exposure to STC.

STC is a mycotoxin that can be formed on food commodities contaminated with moulds due to improper storage.  Animal studies showed that STC may cause cancer to animals upon chronic exposure and it is possibly carcinogenic to humans.  For reducing the risk of STC contamination, food should be stored properly, such as keeping in cool and dry places to prevent fungal infestation.