Aflatoxin Program

AMS’ Laboratory Approval Service (LAS) approves, or accredits, labs to perform aflatoxin testing in support of domestic and/or export trade of almonds, peanuts, and pistachio nuts. Aflatoxins are toxic metabolites produced by the molds Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus nomius, and Aspergillus parasiticus. If present in sufficient amounts, aflatoxins are known to be carcinogenic and may cause acute toxicity. Peanuts and tree nuts are susceptible to aflatoxin contamination.  

Laboratory Approval Program requirements for aflatoxin testing include good laboratory, quality assurance and control practices, applicable domestic and international standards (such as ISO/IEC 17025:2005), proficiency testing, established methods and accepted equipment, and on-site audits. Laboratories voluntarily participate and pay program fees.

Almonds

At the request of the Almond Board of California (ABC), AMS administers a program for aflatoxin testing of almonds destined for export to the European Union through the Pre-Export Certification program of ABC.

Peanut Aflatoxin Program

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers Minimum Quality and Handling Standards for Domestic and Imported Peanuts Marketed in the United States (7 CFR 996 Parts 996.1 – 996.75). The regulation requires domestically marketed peanuts for human consumption to be analyzed for aflatoxin by a USDA or USDA-approved lab. AMS consults with the Peanut Standards Board on program requirements.

Pistachio Aflatoxin Program

All domestic and import shipments of pistachio nuts intended for human consumption must be tested for aflatoxin contamination. AMS administers mandatory domestic aflatoxin requirements for pistachio nuts under Pistachios Grown in California, Arizona, and New Mexico (7 CFR Part 983) and administers mandatory import requirements for pistachio nuts under Specialty Crops; Import Regulations (7 CFR Part 999, Section 999.600). USDA is responsible for sampling and testing each lot for total aflatoxins and for issuing a certificate of analysis for each lot tested. At the request of the Administrative Committee for Pistachios laboratories may also participate in the program for pistachio nuts destined for EU.

Additional Resources

For more information, contact:

Isaac Gene Sterling, Program Manager
Laboratory Approval Service
Laboratory Approval and Testing Division
Science & Technology Program
1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 3533-S
Washington, DC 20250-0272
Phone: (202) 720-5898
Fax: (202) 720-4631
Isaac.Sterling@ams.usda.gov