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Mycotoxins Common In Grains And Grain Products

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Mycotoxins frequently contaminate grains and grain products used for animal feeds and human foods. On a global level- between 30 and 100% of all grain based feed and food samples are contaminated with measurable levels of mycotoxins.

Luciano Pinotti et al. Mycotoxin contamination in the EU feed supply chain: A focus on cereal byproducts. Toxins 2016, 8, 45 doi:10.33900/toxins8020045.

Domestic animals such as cattle, pigs, chickens, and turkeys typically consume feeds which are about 50% grains. Mycotoxins consumed by animals can be absorbed by humans who eat meat, milk, and eggs from animals who eat contaminated feeds.

Mycotoxins are often found in bakery goods like bread and cake and in processed foods like soups and meat products which contain grain products and/or meat from animals who consume grains. Common mycotoxins found in human foods and feeds include aflatoxins (carcinogenic- from several Aspergillus species), zearelenone (an estrogen mimicking mycotoxin produced by some Fusarium and Gibberella species), DON (deoxynivalenol or vomittoxin- produced by Fusarium species which can induce nausea and vomiting), ochratoxins (toxic to the kidneys- produced by some Aspergillus and Penicillium species), and fumonisins (produced by some Fusarium species). Silage made from grains such as corn are often major sources of mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON or vomittoxin) in animal diets (Silage consists of grains, leaves and other plant parts which have been allowed to ferment).

Many countries have set maximum levels of mycotoxins to be allowed in animal feed and human foods. Cleaning and dry milling of grain can significantly reduce or increase mycotoxins levels compared to raw grains. Dry storage of grains and legumes (like soy and peanuts) can significantly reduce risk of mycotoxin contamination. Beer can also be a significant source of mycotoxins in the human diet.

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