Mycotoxins; a continuous problem?

Mycotoxins are a diverse group of secondary fungal metabolites produced by different fungi. Hundreds of mycotoxins have been chemically identified but the toxicity, occurrence, and target organs vary. But despite the increase in the occurence there has been a decline in research. WHY?

Mycotoxins are a diverse group of secondary fungal metabolites produced by different fungi. Hundreds of mycotoxins have been chemically identified but the toxicity, occurrence, and target organs vary.
Although the economic costs of mycotoxins are impossible to accurately determine, annual economic losses (on a global basis) in animal production industries due to mycotoxins could be as much as several hundred billion dollars.
Diagnosis of mycotoxicoses, diseases caused by mycotoxins, in animals is difficult as they may be similar to diseases with other etiologies. It is well known that grains infected by fungi in the field or during harvest or storage can produce multiple mycotoxins .
Increased frequency of multiple mycotoxin contamination
This situation may occur especially in animal feeds compounded from grain ingredients produced in different geographic regions. Multiple mycotoxin contamination has become a greater concern to poultry industry in recent years due to more frequent reports by analytical laboratories. The occurrence of single mycotoxin contamination seems to be rare.
It appears that there has been an increasing trend in the severity and economic importance of mycotoxins in recent years and trading of agricultural commodities at global level might have contributed to this trend.
Decline in mycotoxin research
There has been, however, a decline in mycotoxin research with relevance to the poultry industry. Why?
Do we have a comprehensive understanding of mycotoxins and as a result, we do not need to do any more research or lack of funding is the main reason? Do you, as an individual involved in the poultry industry, think that mycotoxins can be problematic for your business in your country? Where is the position of mycotoxins in classification of influential factors in today's modern poultry production?
How accurate are the analytical methods?
Although some preventative strategies can reduce mycotoxin formation, it is quite simplistic to think that the problem is over. We still have problem with the way that we take samples from ingredients/finished feeds. Is your submitted sample for analysis representative of whole batch? Are mycotoxin concentrations in analyzed sample the same as the whole batch? How about analytical methods used?
Determination of mycotoxin concentrations in feed samples is a highly variable task. It has recently been shown that "masked" mycotoxins in which the toxin is conjugated to glucose can escape routine detection methods but can undergo hydrolysis releasing free mycotoxins in the intestinal tract. This might contribute to an underestimation of the total amount of mycotoxins in the feed samples. As I mentioned earlier, it is quite obvious that we can not prevent formation of mycotoxins but what you do now to reduce the adverse effects of mycotoxins in your farm/ feed mill?


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    Mian Tariq

    Dear Mr. Mujaba,

    No doubt about the severity of mycotoxins but what wonders is the continous refusal by feed millers and there claims as they produce toxin free feed.
    1.What and how a common man confront or challange this situation?
    2. Its time that intl organisations should poke into it nd forced the Govt to pass stricts rules to use the binders for prevention if not full cure
    3. I think World poultry contribution to this cause and creating awareness is wonderful and they should create more fear about it rather than awareness.


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    Dr.M.V.L.N. Raju

    We have several approaches for countering mycotoxins in poultry feeds. But none of them is effective at field level for having a comprehensive effect on different mycotxins, without having any other unwanted effects on nutrient utilisation. I agree with you that lot of research still needs to be done.

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    Dear Mr Mujtaba
    You are absolutely correct in pointing out the importance of target organs in identification of the mycotoxin problems.
    Its heartening to know that LAMIC In Brazil the largest producer of poultry/swine meat has realsed that and laid stringent tests for mycotoxin binders to pass and be on their approved list. These as you correctly point out are based on the effects on the target organs. However few myoctoxin binders i believe have passed all the tests.

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