BIOMIN reports high mycotoxin risks

Mycotoxin-related threats to livestock production continue to pose a challenge to the feed and animal sectors in most regions of the world in 2017, according to the latest BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey report.

This conclusion emerged from more than 51,197 analyses conducted on 13,153 finished feed and raw commodity samples sourced from 69 countries from January to September 2017.

Elevated levels of mycotoxins detected in the first half of 2017 persist in many regions worldwide.

While, corn and its by-products are commonly contaminated by mycotoxins, other feed ingredients such as soybeans also appear to have a heightened risk of contamination.

Co-contamination of samples by multiple mycotoxins is quite frequent. A full 75% of samples tested for multiple mycotoxins were shown to contain two or more mycotoxins.

Dr Timothy Jenkins, mycotoxin risk management product manager at BIOMIN, said that the uptick in mycotoxin contamination levels recorded in the first half of 2017 compared to 2016 has continued through September.

In addition to detailing mycotoxin occurrence levels, the report contains total risk level calculations per region. The total risk level expresses the percentage of samples with at least one mycotoxin above its threshold level—the parts per billion figure at which a particular mycotoxin could impair the health or performance of farm animals.

US corn

“There is an ongoing high risk of the mycotoxins deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisins (FUMs) in North America from the 2016 corn harvest, and we see a similar trajectory in the current harvest,” he said.

Analytical results of 170 samples of 2017 US corn revealed that 80% of samples contained deoxynivalenol, 48% contained zearalenone and 58% contained fumonisins above the recommended risk threshold.

“These numbers are closely related to wet conditions during silking and, in the case of fumonisins, some higher temperatures leading up to harvest,” he added.

The risk in South American corn appears to be higher so far in 2017 compared to 2016 in all of the three main corn mycotoxins: deoxynivalenol, zearalenone and fumonisins.

Analytical results of 3,012 samples of South American corn revealed that 79% of samples contained deoxynivalenol, 25% contained zearalenone and 80% contained fumonisins above the recommended risk threshold.

South American soybeans

Dr Jenkins noted that soybeans are usually at a lower mycotoxin risk than many other crops, but that appears to be changing over the last two years.

Tests of 842 samples of 2017 soybeans from Brazil revealed that 94% of samples contained deoxynivalenol above the recommended risk threshold. Also, 61% of 484 samples of 2017 soybean from Argentina contained zearalenone above the recommended risk threshold.

Wet weather in the lead up to harvest in some parts of South America have contributed to another year of higher risk in soybeans in some South American regions.

Multiple mycotoxins

Consistent with results noted in the first half of 2017, 75% of samples analyzed contained two or more mycotoxins—presenting additional risks to farm animals. Certain combinations of mycotoxins are known to have synergistic effects that aggravate their negative consequences.

“Low-level multiple mycotoxin contamination leads to poorer feed efficiency and low growth rates in many animal species,” said Dr Jenkins. “The synergistic effects and subclinical symptoms of mycotoxins may have a greater economic impact for the industry than severe mycotoxicosis,” he added.


Dr Jenkins offered several tips on mitigating the risk associated with mycotoxins.

“First, test your feed ingredients. Second, avoid contaminated feed when possible. Third, pay attention to feed storage conditions,” he said.

“Even the most strenuous prevention efforts cannot stop mycotoxin contamination of feedstuffs from occurring. In the face of multiple mycotoxins in feed, the most reliable, safe and effective solution is to employ proven strategies that neutralize toxins in the intestinal tract of animals.”

The annual BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey constitutes the longest running and most comprehensive survey of its kind. The survey results provide insights on the incidence of the six major mycotoxins in the agricultural commodities used for livestock feed in order to identify the potential risk posed to livestock animal production.