by Vaughn Entwistle, Managing Editor, Milling and Grain


Every year since 2004 Biomin has conducted an annual survey of mycotoxins as part of the technical service they provide to their customers. The worldwide survey reports on which mycotoxins were discovered and where they were found. Biomin maintains that the survey is crucial to helping the company to develop new products for customers as it allows them to us evaluate the mycotoxin risk to animals.

This year's webinar was moderated by Joshua Davis and featured a panel of mycotoxin experts including:

  • Alexandro Marchioro MSc, Senior Mycotoxin Expert at Biomin
  • Anneliese Müll PhD, Project Manager, Mycotoxin at Biomin
  • Martina Bellasio PhD, Senior Mycotoxin Expert at Romer Labs


Mycotoxin origins

Mycotoxins produced by fungi contaminate a wide variety of feed ingredients given to ruminants, swine, poultry, fish, and shrimp. These mycotoxins can have many deleterious consequences for animals, including affecting health, growth, welfare and, ultimately, profitability. Biomin's mycotoxin report covered the major topics surrounding the issue of mycotoxin infection:

  • Upcoming mycotoxin threats in livestock feed across the globe
  • Relevant mycotoxin testing tools to ensure proper monitoring in an animal rearing operation
  • The dangers posed by the presence of multiple mycotoxins and newly emerging mycotoxins
  • How to establish an effective mycotoxin risk management programme

The report was offered as a live streamed webinar and opened with a world map colour-keyed in terms of the risk threshold. While all regions are affected by mycotoxins, the risk threshold is based on risk in the field and rated from 'moderate' to 'extreme risk'. Pale yellow denotes 'moderate' risk levels which gradually darkens to dark red which represents 'extreme risk'. A new addition for 2020 was the introduction of mycotoxin risks for aquaculture.

Corn (maize) was one of the first feed crops evaluated and was depicted by a graph recording 10 years of mycotoxin contamination. It was noted that the same strains of mycotoxins have appeared around the world.

North America

The risk for North America is considered extreme with risks from both soybean and corn crops. Levels of 90 percent Vomitoxin (DON) are prevalent with a maximum concentration of 8936ppb. For corn, 85 percent of samples were contaminated by DON.

Central and South America

Once again, the risk is extreme. Samples tended to test high in contamination. Fumonisin (FUM) is the most abundant mycotoxin in this region, contaminating 90 percent of samples, followed by DON with 56 percent. All the Americas are subject to high levels of mycotoxin contamination.


Risk in Europe is high-to-severe, mainly DON with 83 and 73 percent FUM. Straw is very high in DON, particularly in Northern Europe. In southern Central Europe wheat had 54 percent DOM.


In general Asia has seen the same extreme risk as last year. FUM and DOM are the highest level mycotoxins recorded. 31 percent of corn samples tested positive for Aflatoxin. Over 98 percent of animal feed tested positive for FUM with a maximum concentration of 41471ppb.

Southeast Asia

100 percent of feed tested positive for FUM, which is a great concern for the livestock industry.

Middle East and North Africa

FUM are the most prevalent mycotoxins. There is recorded a 97 percent continuation for FUM and 62 percent for DOM with a maximum concentration of 4324ppb.

Africa (not including North Africa)

Risk levels in Africa are extreme with 83 percent for DON followed by FUM at 78 percent, while 77 percent of corn samples were contaminated by more than one mycotoxin. Co-contamination, where commodities are contaminated by more than one mycotoxin, is a serious problem.

Multiple mycotoxin occurrence

Emerging mycotoxins are most commonly found in straw (Enniatin A1 97 percent); Maize (Monilformin 92 percent) and finished feed (Enniatin B1 92 percent).

A case study showed that traces of mycotoxin in swine feed slowed body weight gain and reduced body weight. In addition to aflatoxin, the feed was also contaminated by Diacetoxyscirpenol. Mycotoxin co-occurrence can have additive synergistic or antagonistic effects on animals. In the last year, the scientific community has focused on emerging mycotoxins such as Patulin, Fusaric acid, and Ergot alkaloids, which cause negative effects towards different bodily functions.

So-called masked mycotoxins modify some mycotoxin compounds, which is a defence mechanism of the plant. The animal ingests contaminated feed and then the parental mycotoxin is released into the animal's gut.

The solution is Multi-Mycotoxin Analysis, a service offered by Biomin. Biomin's Spectrum Top 50 Multi Mycotoxin Analysis is able to identify many different metabolites in a single run, which provides insight into the contamination of a sample.

However, there are over 400 metabolites that could be toxic, so the question is: how do we test for them?

Biomin's Spectrum 380 is the most comprehensive mycotoxin analysis available. 90 percent of samples tested contain 10 or more mycotoxins and metabolites.

Once you have the analysis of your sample, Biomin can provide different responses depending on the mycotoxins present.


The 2019 survey was followed by a live question and answer session.

Q. What is the best simple solution for mycotoxin screening?

A. Strip tests which are fast and easy to use, can also be used in the field. There are also laser tests that allow you to measure samples in parallel.

Q. How vulnerable is commercial poultry to mycotoxins?

A. Mycotoxins can affect poultry production, although we don't have solid numbers equating mycotoxin feed contamination. This can open the possibility that mycotoxins can weaken the immune system and make poultry more prevalent to disease.

Q. Is it possible to fix all the mycotoxin levels in feed?

A. Unfortunately not. We have different metabolites that we have just begun to discover the effects of. However, the MYCOfix line can counteract over 200 mycotoxins.

Q. What is the most efficient and accurate way to test for mycotoxins in animal feed?

A. There is no absolute best method, the testing method that should be chosen is a quick testing method such as strips or LCMS analysis.

Q. How will the reduction in pesticide use and climate change affect mycotoxin contamination over the next five years?

A. The reduction in fungicide use in the field will result in increased fungus in the feed. As the climate warms, latitude north of the equator will follow the warming trends. Mycotoxins will be produced in the field as temperatures warm.

Q. How do you prepare a sample for mycotoxin testing.?

A. Taking a sample is the most important part of the analysis. Because of the potential problem of hot spots, it is best to collect incremental samples


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