Dealing with mycotoxins

Köster
Dr Hinner Köster Animal Nutrition - Africa

If we look at the current animal product export figures it is evident that the South African industry is serious in continuing to explore these markets. To export feed or food derived from our feeds, demands compliance with control systems at all stages of production and in all sectors of the food chain, laid down by import countries.

If we look at the current animal product export figures it is evident that the South African industry is serious in continuing to explore these markets. To export feed or food derived from our feeds, demands compliance with control systems at all stages of production and in all sectors of the food chain, laid down by import countries.

Therefore, the emphasis in our industry has shifted somewhat from agricultural political issues to more technical and social issues. One of the threats that required re-evaluation of the way we take responsibility for the products we produce is the incidence of mycotoxins in feeds for the production of safer and more efficient food.

Mycotoxicosis is an example of hazards in food that is strongly linked to feed, and is attracting greater attention due to the development of increasingly sensitive testing techniques as well as advances in the understanding of the severe threat mycotoxins pose to both animal and human health. No region of the world escapes the problem of mycotoxins and according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization approximately 25% of the world’s grain supply is contaminated.

Interim guidelines
Initially, the South African feed industry has put together guidelines for establishing Good Practices for the control of mycotoxins in the feed industry. The goal was to provide interim guidelines on maximum acceptable levels of mycotoxins in animal feeds until local and/or internationally accepted regulations are set.

These guidelines serve as interim maximum acceptable levels of mycotoxins in South African animal feeds and are based on results from a large variety of studies on mycotoxins that have been published worldwide. These acceptable levels may also serve as guideline when claims of performance due to mycotoxin contamination are levelled at the industry.

Early warning tool
Due to the unique challenges and costs to detect mycotoxins in feed and feed ingredients, and to help fulfil risk assessment, the South African feed industry, has recently expressed an urgent need to have an early warning management tool for the identification of high-risk commodities.

The intended programme could provide a valuable tool to enable South Africa to partake meaningfully in discussions at the International Codex level on mycotoxin levels in food as well as feed. In addition, the programme will assist in the formulation of proper risk management options to protect South Africans against unnecessary exposure to mycotoxins.