Citrinin is a naturally-occurring mycotoxin, which is produced by the fungus species Penicillium, Aspergillus and Monascus. It often occurs together with ochratoxin and mainly forms under poor storage conditions following a harvest.

Citrinin can occur in numerous grains such as beans, fruit, olives, herbs and spices. It is often also detected in red rice that has been fermented with mold fungi, which is used in Asia as a preservative and a food coloring. The Monascus purpureus fungus is used for the fermentation of red rice in order to manufacture a food supplement (red rice yeast powder). Due to its health-promoting effect, it is gaining more importance; however, it can be contaminated with citrinin.

Commission Regulation (EU) no. 212/2014 specifies a maximum content of 2,000 μg/kg (ppb) for citrinin in food supplements based on rice, fermented with red yeast Monascus purpureus. This limit value was re-evaluated in January 2016. Therefore, routine monitoring of these health food products is very important.

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