Mycotoxins

News 1136 views last update:14 Jan 2016

Holistic mycoxtoxin control discussed at Alltech Symposium

At the Mycotoxins and More session held during last week’s GLIMPSE 2020, Alltech’s 29th Annual International Symposium, a panel of mycotoxin industry and university experts from around the world (including Prof. Trevor Smith, Dr. Alex Yiannikouris and Nick Adams) tackled the subject of mycotoxin contamination – from identification to risk management to remediation. The consensus of that discussion was that a holistic mycotoxin control strategy is needed.

Animal health and performance remains intrinsically linked to feed quality. Safeguarding the quality and security of the feed supply is paramount to maximising production on farm and at the feedmill. Chief among feed quality concerns is the ongoing battle with mycotoxin contamination. 

Produced by moulds or fungi, mycotoxins are an ever present threat. They can not only destroy the nutrient values in feed, they can permeate into the systems of the animals that come into contact with them. Once absorbed these toxic metabolites can have a severe impact on production levels, health status and result in substantial financial losses.

Last year’s growing and harvesting conditions provided optimal conditions for mycotoxin growth. Perhaps the most widely talked about has been the surge in levels of aflatoxin contamination – threatening the livelihoods of producers, the profitability of their milk processors and the security of the industry as a whole. This has been illustrated during the recent Balkan aflatoxin crisis. Due to the significant financial losses to producers associated with milk discards, as well as the animal and human welfare aspect, minimizing aflatoxin contamination continues to be a top priority in Europe. 

To address this three major components of such a strategy were proposed:

  • Mycotoxin identification and risk assessment. Alltech’s 37+ Program analyses for more mycotoxins than ever before, providing for the first-time the opportunity to simultaneously, reliably and economically measure the concentrations of up to 52 mycotoxins in a single feed sample. Since the Program was established in September 2012 it has analysed more than 1000 feed samples. Capitalising on this wealth of data, Alltech has proposed a species-specific, mycotoxin risk assessment strategy that considers the toxicity of individual mycotoxins relative to aflatoxin B1, together with their respective concentrations. Feedstuffs contain multiple co-contaminants.  This can lead to additive and synergistic effects.  The response in animals is, therefore, often greater than we would expect based on individual mycotoxin analysis.


This strategy represents a first step in assessing the expected toxic impact of the range of toxins present in a given sample on the animal. Challenges remain. Risk assessment must be extended to address the >30% of mycotoxins present as metabolites that remain masked using current detection methods. The presence of non-detectable (masked) mycotoxins is widespread and often leads to significant underestimation of the true level of mycotoxin contamination in feedstuffs.

  • Mycotoxin management. Mycotoxin control strategies are essential in feed and food production in order to limit the effect of mycotoxins on animal health and performance and also to reduce the risk of future instances of contamination. Such strategies are grounded in risk assessment and the answers to key questions. For example: (1) Which feed or food ingredients are most vulnerable to mycotoxin formation? (2) What stage(s) in the production cycle are most prone to mycotoxin formation? (3) Can toxin levels increase during storage? (4) Do safe levels of mycotoxins exist? (4) What are the signs of mycotoxin exposure in different animal species? Answers to these and other questions can aid feed producers in identifying critical control points so safeguards can be implemented.


Alltech’s MIKO Program (mycotoxin hazard analysis program), based on HACCP principles does just that. Alltech’s MIKO (mycotoxin hazard analysis program), based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) principles, is a systematic audit used to evaluate and identify ways to reduce areas of future mycotoxin risk. This involves establishing the correct cleaning and monitoring procedures as well as identifying critical levels for the given species.

  • Mycotoxin solutions. Despite regulations, risk assessment, and the implementation of best-management practices, mycotoxins in the food chain cannot be avoided. Alltech’s 37+ Program has found that 98% of samples tested during 2012 were contaminated with mycotoxins – 93% of which were contaminated with multiple toxins. As such effective mycotoxin management is fundamental to the success of any farm or feed mill operation. Adsorption (binding) of mycotoxins before entry to an animal’s circulatory system is the most effective and practical means to negate their adverse effects.


Alltech recently launched its second generation mycotoxin binder. Mycosorb A+ is the most advanced mycotoxin binder on the market and offers producers a solution that limits the effect of more mycotoxins. The next generation of mycotoxin binders, it offers superior binding capabilities, a broader adsorption profile and increased mycotoxin sequestration efficacy. Feedstuffs are naturally contaminated with multiple mycotoxins – a consideration that was fundamental to the development of Mycosorb A+. By understanding mycotoxin contamination better through the 37+ Program, Alltech have identified and developed enhanced binding technologies which have been proven to be effective under conditions far more relevant to commercial production.

Feeding Mycosorb A+, from Alltech, reduces mycotoxin absorption within the animal, thereby negating the damaging effects of mycotoxins on its health.

Mycosorb A+ is not for sale in the US or Canada.

Sarah Lahert

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