Achieve safety and compliance by reliably identifying mycotoxins in wheat, corn and other grains.
Mycotoxins, which are produced by fungi, are often associated with moldy crops, but the contamination is not always visible. Even when superficial to the human eye, mycotoxins in food are poisonous to humans and livestock, requiring sensitive and reliable tests to detect mycotoxins in grains and corn. Mycotoxins are often produced during grain storage, resulting from a wide variety of conditions related to moisture content, temperature, storage period, and damage during harvest processing and transport. Some food-borne mycotoxins produce acute symptoms, with severe illness coming on quickly. Other mycotoxins cause cumulative or chronic effects on health, including reproductive problems, growth inhibition, immune deficiency and cancers.
As a result, mycotoxins pose a serious threat to all stages of the food supply, causing, in addition to health hazards, significant economic losses to livestock, seed, and grain farmers, as well as regulation and compliance risks for grain mills and processors. The crops most commonly contaminated with mycotoxins are wheat and corn.
Mycotoxins in Wheat
Mycotoxins that contaminate wheat are aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone (ZON), fumonisin, ochratoxin and T-2 toxin.
Wheat is the most widely-grown grain worldwide based on grain acreage, and the wheat harvest ranks third based on total production volume. In crop year 2015-2016, 737 million metric tons of wheat was produced around the world.
World wide, the major wheat producers include the European Union, China, India, Russia, Ukraine and the United States. Within the U.S., North Dakota, Kansas, and Montana produce the largest volume.
Mycotoxins cause serious financial impact on crops such as wheat and corn. According to The Food and Agriculture Organization, 25% of the world's crops are affected by mycotoxins each year, with annual losses of around 1 billion metric tons of foods and food products. The economic losses stem from four main sources: 1) diseases that cause yield loss; 2) mycotoxin contamination that reduces crop value; 3) mycotoxin-related health problems that cause losses in animal productivity; and 4) human health costs. Not counting the health costs, reports estimate the financial losses at anywhere from $1-5 billion a year.
Mycotoxins can be particularly troublesome in wheat and other cereal grains because, once produced mycotoxins are chemically stable at high temperatures, meaning they can travel all the way through the food supply chain.
Fungal growth of mycotoxin production can change the chemical and physical properties of feed, as well as the nutrient content of grains. As grain is key to the nutritional growth of feedstock animals, the quality of grain makes a significant difference in the productivity and profit of feedstock. Farmers, animal producers, grain handlers, food processors and distributors all play an important role in monitoring grain quality. For grain testing in the lab and field, EnviroLogix offers grain testing kits that test for mycotoxins in wheat with certainty.
Mycotoxins in Corn
The most common mycotoxins in corn are aflatoxin, fumonisin, and deoxynivalenol (DON), also called vomitoxin.
Corn is being used to produce ethanol at increasing rates, which, in turn, is increasing the economic impact of mycotoxins in corn. Dried distillers' grain and solubles (DDGS), a co-product of ethanol production, is used as an animal feed component for swine. In DDGS, the mycotoxins from the original grain become concentrated, resulting in an estimated $18 million loss per year in the U.S. swine industry, as stated by The American Phytopathological Society.
The detection of mycotoxins in corn results in a reduced price or rejection in local trade as well for export. For perspective, aflatoxins in corn alone in the U.S. have been estimated to have a $225 million/year impact.
Rates of contamination are highly correlated with the weather. Aflatoxin, for instance, thrives in hot dry weather on corn crops under stress from drought, heat, or insects. In general, corn is at risk of mycotoxin contamination in temperatures ranging from 80 to 100 degrees F and a relative humidity of 85 percent (18 to 20 percent moisture in the grain).
In order to accurately detect the presence of mycotoxins in corn, EnviroLogix offers a full range of mycotoxin detection tests for corn.
Mycotoxins in Grain, Seeds, and other Commodities
|Mycotoxin||Most Contaminated Grains||Effects of Ingestion|
|Deoxynivalenol/also called DON and Vomitoxin||Wheat, Corn, Barley||Human toxicoses. Toxic to animals, especially pigs|
|Zearalenone||Corn, Wheat||Identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a possible human carcinogen. Affects reproductive system in female pigs|
|Ochratoxin A||Barley, Wheat, and Many Other Commodities||Suspected by IARC as human carcinogen. Carcinogenic in laboratory animals and pigs|
|Fumonisin||Corn||Suspected by IARC as human carcinogen. Toxic to pigs and poultry. Cause of equine eucoencephalomalacia (ELEM), a fatal disease of horses|
|Aflatoxin||Corn, Barley, Wheat, Peanuts and Many Other Commodities||Aflatoxin B1, and naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins, identified as potent human carcinogens by IARC. Adverse effects in various animals, especially chickens|