With unexpected weather patterns can come unexpected changes to regional mycotoxin contamination patterns. Just two months ago in the Balkans, news emerged of aflatoxin B1 contamination of a maize crop and a spike in aflatoxin M1 concentrations in milk. The maize was rejected in international feed markets and the milk was withdrawn from sale. These events stemmed from extreme drought stress in the 2012 growing season leading to poor maize crop yields together with conditions that favored mold growth. What can be done?
At the Mycotoxins and More session held Monday afternoon at GLIMPSE 2020, the 29th Alltech Annual International Symposium, a panel of mycotoxin industry and university experts from around the world tackled the difficult questions. The consensus of that discussion was that a holistic mycotoxin control strategy is needed. Three major components of such a strategy were addressed:
- Mycotoxin identification and risk assessment. Alltech’s breakthrough 37+ Analysis for feed safety surveillance provides a first-time opportunity to simultaneously, reliably and economically measure the concentrations of up to 52 mycotoxins in a single feed sample. Capitalizing on this new 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. This strategy represents a first step. Challenges remain. Significantly, risk assessment must be extended to address the ≈30% of mycotoxins present as metabolites that remain masked using current detection methods.
- Mycotoxin management. Mycotoxin control strategies are essential in feed and food production to limit 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 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.
- Mycotoxin solutions. Despite regulations, risk assessment, and the implementation of best-management practices, mycotoxins in the food chain cannot be avoided. Adsorption (binding) of mycotoxins before entry to an animal’s circulatory system represents the most practical, effective means in use today to combat their adverse effects. Yeast-derived Mycosorb® (Alltech Inc.) has repeatedly been shown to outperform inorganic adsorbents such as hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate (HSCAS). These findings were further confirmed in recent ex vivo tests measuring zearalenone (ZEA) transport through live intestinal tissue from rats. Meanwhile, work to improve adsorbent capabilities continues.