A Closer Look at Zearalenone in DDGS

Mycotoxin testing in ethanol plants isn’t new; it’s been fairly standard since the secondary market for feed was created for DDGS (dried distillers grains with solubles). Almost all feed markets have strict guidelines about the levels of mycotoxins present, so most facilities have incorporated at least cursory testing of both incoming corn and the DDGS byproduct. Zearalenone isn’t new either, but it is growing in recognition and importance; improved worldwide monitoring reveals greater prevalence, increased co-contamination, and higher levels than previously thought. In DDGS specifically, a recent BIOMIN report noted Zearalenone present in 34% of samples tested, with an average level of 362 ppb. As a myco-estrogen, its deleterious effects on the reproductive system of production animals, most especially swine, can have a tremendous negative impact.

As it relates to proactively analyzing hazards for FSMA compliance, and as we have previously highlighted (FUMO), unusual weather and climatic anomalies are shifting previously-believed norms for certain mycotoxins, so it is not safe to assume that a particular mycotoxin won’t be present solely based on geography. And because of the multiplicative effect on mycotoxins during ethanol production, even small amounts of mycotoxins entering the plan become magnified in the end product.

Acquiring a comprehensive baseline for a crop season can help quality managers create ongoing plans for test frequency and standards for any particular year, supporting the rationale for which mycotoxins are tested for and how frequently. Supplemental testing of the finished DDGS provides additional data points, confirming robust screening of incoming corn and quality assurance for the finished product. That approach provides the basis for complying with the requirements and intention of the FSMA.

Sources & Additional Resources:

  1. Pig Progress, “Zearalenone in Pig Feed—A Challenge to Solve”
  2. Biomin World Mycotoxin Survey 2018
  3. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, “Zearalenone Concerns in Reproducing Livestock”
  4. EnviroLogix News: Fumonisin Front & Center
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