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Mycotoxin risk management system

Karin Griessler



According to an opinion poll, in August 2007, 58.2% of the participants think that the risk of mycotoxins in raw materials will globally become greater in the future.


Due to global trade of agricultural commodities the discussion about the mycotoxin hazard has intensified.

It is important to understand the complexity of mycotoxins and the existing counteracting strategies against this threat.


Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by several fungi under natural conditions. The contamination of feedstuffs with mycotoxins poses a serious threat to the health of humans and animals. Mycotoxicoses are diseases caused by mycotoxin ingestion, inhalation or skin-contact. The effects of mycotoxins in animals are diverse, varying from immune suppression to death in severe cases, depending on toxin-related (type of mycotoxin consumed, level and duration of intake), animal-related (animal species, sex, age, breed, general health and immune status) and environmental (farm management, hygiene, temperature) factors.


Mycotoxins can accumulate in maturing corn, wheat, soybeans, sorghum, peanuts and other food and feed crops on the field, during transportation or during storage. The occurrence of mycotoxins in food and animal feed often shows a geographical pattern, as for example Aspergillus species meet optimal conditions in tropical and subtropical regions, whereas Fusarium and Penicillium species are adapted to the moderate climate of North America and Europe. However, worldwide trade of food and feed commodities has resulted in a worldwide distribution of contaminated materials. Additionally, each plant can be affected by more than one fungus and each of them can produce more than one mycotoxin. Consequently, there is a great probability that many mycotoxins are present in one feed, thus increasing the odds of interactions between mycotoxins and the occurrence of synergistic effects, which are of great concern in livestock health and productivity. The exact figures of economic losses due to mycotoxin ¡¡��C contamination cannot be accurately evaluated. Economic impacts are felt by crop- and animal producers as sampling- and analytic costs as well as decreased profits caused by reduced animal performance.


Which strategies work efficiently against mycotoxins?


Although extensive efforts on preventive actions during crop growth, harvesting and storage are taken, there exists a potential risk of mycotoxin contamination thus successful detoxification procedures after harvest become increasingly important. The detoxification procedures are divided into three categories: physical, chemical and biological methods.


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Article made possible through the contribution of BIOMIN GmbH.

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