Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins - an underestimated danger to health

Mycotoxins (fungal poisons) are secondary metabolites of fungal moulds. They represent a serious danger to animals and humans because of their toxicity. They occur naturally during the growth process of plants or as a result of incorrect (damp) storage. Cereals, dried fruits, nuts, spices and coffee are particularly affected. As these substances serve as fodder, mycotoxins can also get into the food chain in milk products, eggs and meat.

There are currently more than 200 different known toxins. Toxicity is dependent on both the substance and the concentration. Possible consequences could be a carcinogenic, neurotoxic, immunosuppressive, mutagenic or a teratogenic effect or they could lead to an allergic reaction.

Do you require confirmation that your products are safe and that the legal regulations have been complied with? As an accredited Swiss contract laboratory, we will test your products in accordance with the Swiss Book of Foodstuffs (SLMB) and Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006. We will test for all common mycotoxins for you.

Do you require the results particularly urgently?
Then maybe our Quick Test is right for you.

 

We will be happy to advise you.

Read on here for more information or contact us.


Mycotoxins in foodstuffs

Mycotoxins: Rye with an ergot infestation
Mycotoxins: Rye with an ergot infestation

According to estimates from the FAO, up to 25 % of the world production of foodstuffs is contaminated with mycotoxins. In the EU, mycotoxins are detectable in approximately 20 % of cereal production.

In the case of fungi in cereals, distinctions are made between field fungi and storage fungi. While the field fungi appear on the green plants in a warm and humid climate, the storage fungi develop in the corresponding conditions in the harvested crops during silo storage. As a result, care should be taken that the cereal is dried sufficiently before storage and transportation.

What measures against mycotoxin infestations exist?

In some cases, the infected cereal grains can be sorted out. This is the case for example with ergot (the ergotamin contained within is one of the most acutely dangerous fungal toxins), which can be removed in the mill. This is possible because the infected cereal grains are altered in both their shape and their colour by the fungus.

This is mostly not possible for other fungi.
Decontamination by heat treatment is also not possible because mycotoxins are largely heat-stable.

What should be observed in the determination of mycotoxins?

There is no direct correlation between the amount of mould and the amount of mycotoxins. The contamination cannot therefore be estimated optically.

Generally, distribution in the product is irregular. A representative sampling process is therefore particularly important.

The samples are extracted using organic solvents. The fungal poisons will be dissolved out of the product being investigated by the solvents. This process is used to remove interfering substances and for concentration of the analytes.

Chromatographic separation is then performed using HPLC. The individual substances are then identified and quantified by performing a comparison of their retention time with that of reference substances or by using MS/MS.

Dangers for humans?

Depending on the type of toxin, mycotoxins are either acutely or chronically active (carcinogens, oestrogen or teratogenic). As they occur in almost all staple foods, the risk of chronic injury from the regular consumption of infected foodstuffs is particularly high.

In the past few years, the fusarium toxins fumonisin and deoxynivalenol have been increasingly monitored, as after studies of nutrition have been performed, it has been determined that the tolerable daily intake (TDI) in children is being reached and to some extent is being exceeded. Fumonisin occurs primarily in maize but is also present in wheat. Wheat on the other hand is primarily infected with deoxynivalenol. The risks from ochratoxin A have also been underestimated for a long time: it can currently be detected in almost all blood samples taken from the population.

Which primary foodstuffs should be tested?

  Mycotoxins            
Raw materials

DON

ZON

OTA

FUM

Afla B+G

Afla M1

PAT

Barley

X

X

         
Oats

X

 

X

       
Millet    

X

X

     
Maize

X

X

X

X

X

   
Rice    

X

X

X

   
Rye

X

X

X

       
Soya

X

X

X

       
Wheat

X

X

X

X

     
Spices    

X

 

X

   
Fruit    

X

 

X

 

X

Coffee    

X

       
Beer    

X

       
Milk  

X

   

X

X

 
Eggs  

X

         
Meat    

X

 

X

   

Dangers for animals?

Infestation with mycotoxins represents a great problem in the husbandry of animals. Contaminated fodder leads to the same kind of damages and illnesses in animals as it does in humans. Additionally, fungal poisons or their equally poisonous transformation products can also get into the food chain for humans in this manner. Therefore, monitoring of fodder for mycotoxins is recommended.

The challenge for the analysis

With the increasing legal regulations on the allowed maximum limits of mycotoxins in foodstuffs and fodder, greater requirements are being placed on the sampling and analysis.

To enable compliance with the limits required, a statistically representative number of samples must be taken. The analytical evidence for the individual compounds must be sufficiently sensitive and selective for the specific purpose of use (fodder, foodstuffs or baby foods). This is the only way to guarantee the greatest level of product safety.

Do you require additional information?

Please read the unabridged version in our technical article (see the right-hand column) or ask for advice from our customer services.


Our services in detail:

Mycotoxins
Mycotoxins
  • Consultation on mycotoxins analysis
  • Determination of aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2); aflatoxin M1; deoxynivalenol (DON); fumonisins B1, B2; ochratoxin A; patulin; T-2, HT-2 toxin; zearalenone (ZON)
  • Multi-methods for trichothecene (DON, ZON, T2, HT-2)
  • Additional services are according to the directory of services or upon request

contact person

sales for foodstuffs

Jörg Freudenberger State Certified Graduate Food Chemist

Tel. +41 58 434 42 00 Fax +41 58 434 42 01 service@ufag-laboratorien.ch

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