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Food Safety Focus (167th Issue, June 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

Excessive Patulin Found in Apple Juice Drinks

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) announced in April to early June 2020 that five samples of apple juice drinks, involving both locally produced and imported products, were found to contain excessive levels of patulin. The CFS had ordered the food traders involved to stop selling and recall the products concerned.

Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by a variety of moulds. It mainly occurs in rotten apples and their products. Prepackaged apple juices are commonly heat-treated, say, pasteurised, to prolong their shelf-life. Although heat-treatment can destroy the moulds present, it cannot destroy patulin. Ingesting high doses of patulin can cause nausea, gastrointestinal disturbance and vomiting in humans and was shown to damage the liver, spleen, kidney and immune system in experimental animals.

The trade should not use damaged or mouldy apples for making juice. The public should not consume damaged or mouldy apples or the juice from them.