AMS’ Laboratory Approval Service (LAS) plays a role in supporting domestic and/or export trade of almonds, peanuts, and pistachio nuts by approving, or accrediting labs to perform testing for the mycotoxins, aflatoxin and ochratoxin A.
Mycotoxins are toxic compounds naturally produced by certain types of molds (fungi). Peanuts and tree nuts are susceptible to mycotoxin contamination. Mold growth can occur either before harvest or after harvest, during storage, on/in the food itself often under warm, damp and humid conditions (WHO). Aflatoxins are toxic metabolites produced by the Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus nomius, and Aspergillus parasiticus molds. Ochratoxin A is a metabolite produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium molds. For more information on the effects of mycotoxins, visit the Food and Drug Administration website .
The Laboratory Approval Program for Analysis of Mycotoxins (formerly the Laboratory Approval Program for Analysis of Aflatoxins) ensures testing is conducted by qualified and approved laboratories. Program requirements for mycotoxin testing include good laboratory, quality assurance and control practices, applicable domestic and international standards (such as ISO/IEC 17025), proficiency testing, established methods and accepted equipment, and on-site audits. Laboratories voluntarily participate and pay program fees.
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 (EU) through the Pre-Export Certification program of ABC.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers the 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.
Also, at the request of the American Peanut Council (APC), AMS administers a program for aflatoxin testing of peanuts destined for export to the EU.
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). The regulations require domestic and import shipments of pistachios intended for human consumption to be tested for aflatoxin contamination by a USDA or USDA-approved lab.
Also, at the request of the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (ACP), AMS administers a program for aflatoxins and ochratoxin A testing of pistachios destined for EU through the Pistachio Export Aflatoxin Reporting (PEAR) Program.
For more information, contact:
Heath McClure, Program Manager
Laboratory Approval Service
Laboratory Approval and Testing Division
Science & Technology Program
801 Summit Crossing Place, Suite B
Gastonia, NC 28054
Phone: (704) 833-1513
USDA (AMS) or USDA (AMS)-approved Labs
USDA (AMS) Labs: