Tech Forum Alert
Development of a European system for identification of emerging mycotoxins in wheat supply chains
Basic requirements for such a system were addressed, including the selection of indicators, locating information sources, development of underlying model, and investigation of stakeholders' needs. The selection and ranking of key indicators for identifying emerging mycotoxins was based on a literature review, followed by a structured expert judgment study. The expert study was based on the Delphi technique and used a panel of 43 European experts.
The Delphi procedure resulted in a selected set of 12 key indicators for each of three relevant stages of the wheat chain (cultivation; transport and storage; processing). For wheat cultivation, these were: relative humidity/rainfall, crop rotation, temperature, tillage practice, water activity in the kernels, crop variety, harvest conditions, changes in fungal populations, fungicide use, plant health, regional infection pressure and food safety awareness. For the majority of the selected indicators, information sources were identified in specific European countries. However, most sources are not readily accessible and particular data is lacking. A theoretical concept for a model underlying the envisioned emerging mycotoxin identification system has been developed.
The model links the key indicators and their information sources to aid and promote identification of emerging mycotoxins. It manages different types of information sources and levels of available information. The needs of various stakeholder groups regarding the system were investigated by means of two empirical elicitation sessions. The results showed that all stakeholders considered that such a system would be beneficial. One major challenge expected in establishing the system is stakeholder commitment to sharing data and information. This requires great efforts in improving communication and interaction between the key stakeholders.
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Article made possible through the contribution of H.J. van der Fels-Klerx.