5 common questions about Mycotoxins answered

2 March 2021

1. How many mycotoxins are there?

There are more than 500 known mycotoxins. The major groups of toxins are FusariumAspergillusPenicillium and Ergot; each group contains multiple mycotoxins.

2.  Are mycotoxin concentrations increasing?

Mycotoxin levels vary depending on temperatures and the amount of rainfall during the growing season.

Because feed is made of between 4-10 different raw materials it can generally be found that feed has more mycotoxins present than the raw materials themselves with corn, wheat, barley, rice, and soy being the key raw materials that are prone to mycotoxin contamination.

3.  What are the regulatory limits for mycotoxins?

In the UK like most other regions only aflatoxin levels are regulated, whereas values for other mycotoxins are only guidance. Regulated or guidance values vary depending on the species.

However, it is generally agreed in the scientific community that the guidance levels set by authorities are higher than the levels seen to be tolerated by animals.

4. Mycotoxin issues in animals what should be considered?

While high levels of some toxins present provide clear symptoms in certain animals, low levels in feed may also over time present clear symptoms as the toxin levels in the animal are compounded over time. However where there are low levels of toxins, this is when a feed analysis should be performed. 

What to consider:

  • History of the raw material
  • If there has been any mycotoxin analysis report
  • The symptoms the animal is presenting
  • Post-mortem findings

5.  What are mycotoxin interactions?

When more than one mycotoxin occurs at one time, there is likely to be an interaction between them.

One mould can produce many toxins, and one raw material can have many moulds present not just one. Then add in the further factor of feed being made up of many raw materials and you keep adding multiples. This in itself leads to mycotoxin interactions and as a result a greater effect on the animals. We need to accept that today mycotoxin co-contamination is a rule not an exception. Thorough testing is lengthy and only the big 6 are generally tested for. Because where they are found usually 30-40 others are present. Rapid testing is preferred as quick decisions need to be made which we can offer with our Mycomaster system.  

Lauren Judd, Product Manager Feed Additives - Feed Safety