Through a notification dated 12 October 2017, the FSSAI has proposed amendments in the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Regulations, 2011 for fixation of limits of aflatoxin in arecanut. Objections and suggestions if any must reach the FSSAI office by 17 November 2017.
After the FSSAI carried out the review of the comments and objections of the stakeholders, revisions if any will be undertaken and the revised standards will be notified for implementation within a period of six months. These regulations will be called the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Amendment Regulations, 2017 and will come into force on their final publication in the Official Gazette.
In the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011, in regulation relating to “Crop contaminants and naturally occurring toxic substances”, in the table (2.2.1) against serial number 1 relating to Aflatoxin, after the other entries already existing, the entry for arecanut will be added as follows:
|Sr.N0||Name of contaminant||Article of the food||Limit μg/kg|
|1.||Aflatoxin||Arecanut or Betelnut||15 µg/kg|
There are a number of other foods for which the FSSAI has already laid down the limits of aflatoxin but so far there were no standards laid down for arecanut. In the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Regulations, 2011 limits have been fixed for cereals and cereal products, pulses, nuts, dried figs, oilseeds or oils, and spices but areca nut which is also prone to aflatoxin had no limitations. The FSSAI has, therefore, fixed the limits of aflatoxin in arecanut to ensure food safety for consumers.
Aflatoxin is a toxic contaminant that is produced by fungi mainly Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins are found on agricultural crops like maize, peanuts, cottonseed and tree nuts. Areca nut is also prone to formation of fungal growth during various stages of its production, storage, and transportation and therefore, there was a need to fix the limits of aflatoxin in areca nuts.