Insights from the 2023 Alltech Asia Import Risk Analysis
Mycotoxin contamination is a growing concern for animal feed producers worldwide. According to the 2023 Alltech Agri-Food Outlook, Asian feed production has been steadily increasing, from 350 million tons in 2012 to 465 million tons in 2022, leading to a greater reliance on imported grains. As reported by the USDA, this trend is expected to continue, which means it's now more important than ever to have a good understanding of the potential mycotoxin risk in imported raw materials.
To address this concern, Alltech prepared the 2023 Alltech Asia Import Risk Analysis, a comprehensive report designed to inform the Asian feed sector and livestock producers of the potential mycotoxin contamination patterns in the grains that they import for their business in 2023.
The Alltech Asia Import Risk Analysis report draws on data from Alltech’s harvest analysis programs carried out across 2022. Depending on the region and the ingredient being assessed, the test method varied between Alltech 37+, RAPIREAD and SGS.
The analysis assessed the mycotoxin risks in grains — such as corn, wheat, barley and byproducts — sourced from Europe, North America, Latin America, India and Australia for feed and livestock producers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Throughout 2022, the persistence of drought conditions in Europe resulted in reduced crop yields and increased levels of mycotoxins. In countries such as Hungary, Serbia and Romania, many corn samples displayed levels of mycotoxins that exceeded the EU's regulatory limit of 20 ppb for animal feed.
- Corn samples showed an average of 3.8 mycotoxins per sample, and over 50% contained aflatoxin at an average concentration of 16 ppb. More than 27% of samples contained fumonisin at an average concentration of 1,455 ppb.
- Almost all wheat and barley samples were contaminated with at least one mycotoxin, with an average of 3.7 mycotoxins per sample.
- New emerging classes of mycotoxins were found in all wheat and barley samples, with an average concentration of 152 ppb.
The weather conditions in the United States had a significant impact on the mycotoxin profile of corn samples collected for analysis. As the weather conditions got wetter moving from the West to the East, the mycotoxin levels increased. Additionally, crops harvested later in the season tended to have significantly higher toxin loads than those harvested earlier.
- All corn samples had at least one mycotoxin present and had an average of 6.7 mycotoxins per sample.
- Fusarium mycotoxins (DON, fumonisin and zearalenone) and emerging mycotoxins were more prevalent and were present in higher concentrations in most samples.
- The Alltech risk equivalent quantity (REQ*) system indicates that the combined impact of these mycotoxins poses a significant risk to animals and could lead to significant production losses.
*REQ: A measurement of the cumulative impact of mycotoxins in reference to aflatoxin B1
Canada improved notably in terms of its yields as compared to the previous year. As part of our ongoing monitoring efforts, we tested approximately 250 samples of wheat and barley from Canada using the Alltech RAPIREAD system.
- DON was the most commonly detected mycotoxin in the samples analysed from Canada.
- More than 50% of the samples tested displayed levels of DON that were higher than the level of quantification.
- T-2/HT-2 and zearalenone were also detected in a smaller number of samples.
- Although Canada's harvest was impressive, producers should still remain vigilant about the threat of mycotoxin contamination.
Brazil and Argentina displayed significant reductions in yields in 2022. In Brazil, the overall yield was 5% lower than the five-year average, while Argentina saw even worse reductions in yields due to drought.
- The majority of the samples were found to have significant amounts of Fusarium mycotoxins.
- DON was the main toxin of concern in corn from this region, with average levels reaching almost 2,000 ppb.
- Fumonisin, T-2/HT-2 and zearalenone mycotoxins were also found in the samples.
- The combined effect of these mycotoxins can lead to significant losses in animal production, as well as health problems.
Limited access to fertilizers impacted the quality and yield of crops from this country. Along with the limited supply of fertilizer, both the Rabi and Kharif corn crops were heavily impacted by large amounts of rainfall, leading to a high mould count and the presence of mycotoxins.
- Fumonisin and aflatoxin were the most significant mycotoxins detected, with levels of up to 1,600 ppb and 40 ppb, respectively. Other mycotoxins were also present in the samples.
- The presence of these mycotoxins can have a significant impact on the performance, health and productivity of livestock.
This year's wheat and barley harvest delivered the second-highest yields on record in Australia, which is positive news for the industry. However, in the Eastern states, late rains and floods led to significant crop losses and quality issues. This has resulted in high-moisture grains, which will present storage challenges and require producers to practice continuous monitoring to maintain quality.
- Significant levels of DON mycotoxins were detected, reaching up to 3,200 ppb.
High concentrations of DON can negatively impact animal health and performance. Therefore, it is essential for producers and animal nutritionists in Australia to remain vigilant and incorporate appropriate mitigation strategies to ensure the safety and health of their animals.
As the cost of raw materials that are commonly used in animal feed has continued to rise in recent years, the use of byproducts has also become increasingly popular. However, this trend poses a significant challenge when it comes to mycotoxin contamination, as corn byproducts are significantly more likely to be contaminated at higher levels compared to parent grains.
To gain a better understanding of the level of mycotoxin contamination in the byproducts commonly used in animal feed, Alltech analyzed corn gluten meal and DDGS samples from North America, China and Europe using the Alltech 37+ analysis method.
- All samples tested were shown to have at least two mycotoxins present, with an average of 10 mycotoxins per sample.
- Fusarium mycotoxins (DON, fumonisin, zearalenone and fusaric acid) were the most common and significant mycotoxins detected.
- Emerging mycotoxins were also present.
- DON was found at levels of approximately 12,000 ppb and fumonisin at 19,000 ppb.
- High levels of mycotoxins and multiple contamination present a serious challenge for animals consuming feed that includes these byproducts.
The key to mycotoxin risk management
The findings outlined above highlight the need for more rigorous testing and quality-control measures in the use of byproducts in animal feed.
Achieving successful mycotoxin management requires taking a holistic approach, and the only accurate way to understand the true risk presented by the feeds that animals are consuming is to use a routine mycotoxin testing program when purchasing feed ingredients and establishing nutrition plans.
- Mycotoxin contamination is widespread and multifaceted, affecting a range of grains and byproducts from different regions. Mycotoxins are a critical issue for animal feed producers globally.
- The 2023 Alltech Asia Import Risk Analysis provides valuable insights into the potential mycotoxin risk in grains imported into the Asia-Pacific region in 2023.
- The report highlights the impact of environmental factors on the prevalence and amounts of mycotoxins in crops.
- The majority of the raw materials imported into the Asia-Pacific region are contaminated with Fusarium-related mycotoxins (DON, fumonisin, zearalenone, T-2 and fusaric acid).
- Implementing effective mycotoxin management strategies can reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination, ensuring the safety and well-being of animals and the profitability of the operation — but it all comes down to reducing the mycotoxin contamination of the feed supply.