The Truth About Aflatoxin and Apricot Kernels

There is a supplier of apricot kernels in Australia that would have you believe that purchasing apricot kernels other than their own will place you in jeopardy of being exposed to aflatoxin. This is not only wrong, it is fear-mongering and irresponsible. They've even gone so far as to suggest that you may not see the mould present, as it might be hiding beneath the skin. What's most ironic about this implication by this supplier is that mouldy kernels can be and are found within their own product. We guarantee you'll never find mouldy kernels within our offerings.

Fear-tactic marketing is a practise used to steer people away from a competitor's product. Tactics like these are often used when a product lacks superiority on its own merit. This marketing strategy is an effort to gain market-share in Australia, and it has effectively worked for them. It is manipulative and unscrupulous. Please don't be mislead. This supplier is well aware that aflatoxin is not a concern for the apricot kernels available in this country. Unfortunately, this myth is starting to spread right across the internet, such is its nature.

With so many sellers of apricot kernels internationally and so much discussion on the topic, isn't it odd that this particular supplier (and those they supply) is the only one who warns of aflatoxin in apricot kernels?

If you are truly concerned about aflatoxin, we suggest you get in touch with Food Standards Australia/New Zealand, the Department of Health or the ACCC for the truth of the matter.

Q: Are your kernels tested for aflatoxin?

A: Aflatoxin testing is a mandatory requirement for those engaged in the export of nuts, seeds, grains and legumes of any variety, regardless of their potential susceptibility or non-susceptibility to these mycotoxins. We are not involved in the export of apricot seed. Our competitor uses this mandatory testing as a marketing tactic, by suggesting that their product is somehow safer and superior through this export requirement. Our competitor's supplier is a mass-producer who exports many tonnes of aprict seed annually, which is why they're subject to such regulations. They're happy to suggest they're testing the product out of the goodness of their hearts for your benefit, though they themselves are testing nothing.

Aflatoxin testing is not mandatory for us; however, we've been forced to test our product due to the myth created by this other supplier. We test our product with a commercial, USDA approved assay with a cutoff of 4ppb (parts per billion). The other processor is bound by FDA import regulation to produce a certificate of analysis to a cutoff of no greater than 20ppb, which is the level considered to be safe in the USA. Incidentally, Australia considers 15ppb the safe level. Though aflatoxins are highly unlikely to be present in properly stored and dried seed, a negative test would simply indicate that aflatoxin isn't present in a quantity greater than the cutoff. We have never experienced a positive result for aflatoxin at a cutoff of 4ppb, nor would we expect to, just as the other supplier reports to have never received a positive result, nor would we expect them to. The other actually claims to have never received a positive result after nearly 50 years of testing. In actuality - aflatoxins were only discovered 50 years ago. Commercial export testing didn't begin until 1985.

Q: Are Aflatoxins a real concern for apricot kernels?

A: No. Properly stored and processed apricot kernels have no risk of aflatoxins. In the countless pages of literature about apricot kernels, has this issue ever been raised by anyone other than this Australian source? Our competitor who created this myth about apricot kernels and their susceptibility to aflatoxin is merely using their supplier's export requirement for testing as a marketing strategy, knowing they are the only processor engaged in this activity. Their hope is that you'll be afraid to purchase from other sources.

Q: Under what conditions are aflatoxins likely?

A: Aflatoxins are a risk where high temperature, high humidity conditions are experienced. Australia is a very dry country, for the most part. Outside of the northern coastal climate, humidity levels are low and not conducive to the moulds that produce aflatoxins. An high humidity environment can be created within storage containers and silos where moisture is present or product has not been properly dried, in which cases, aflatoxin production becomes more likely. We do not store our seed in silos. Our stock is stored in-shell within a climate controlled environment until it's ready to be processed. It is well ventilated and kept dry at all times.