In 2006, the European Commission has established maximum levels for ochratoxin A in wine and grape products, using occurrence data up to 2001 and toxicity data up to 2006. This paper presents an up-to-date overview of the occurrence of mycotoxins in grapes and wine produced in Europe in the period 1995-2010. In addition, for the most frequently occurring mycotoxins, factors influencing the occurrence, and the toxicological effects are presented. To evaluate possible trends in occurrence, contamination data were grouped into three periods of time, i.e. 1995-1999, 2000-2006 and 2007-2010. Most of the available contamination data on mycotoxins in grapes and wine refer to ochratoxin A, but occurrence data on this toxin from 2006 onwards are very limited. The occurrence of ochratoxin A is higher in the southern European countries than in the northern countries, and higher in red and sweet wines as compared to white wines. Fumonisins occur frequently, but in low concentrations. Data on the natural occurrence of Alternaria toxins are not available. The most important factors that influence ochratoxin A contamination of grapes and wine include: temperature and relative humidity in the month before harvesting the berries, the type of wine (maceration), and the percentage of damaged berries before vinification. Applying good agricultural practices in the vineyard, including minimizing damaged berries and chemical or biological control of the fungi, are the best methods to limit mycotoxin formation in grapes and wine. Ochratoxin A, Alternaria toxins and fumonisins are toxic to animals. These toxins are of concern to human health, but clear evidence on their relationship with human disease is not available yet. Therefore, more research in this area would be desirable.
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