Avoiding the health effects and financial losses of mycotoxins will always be a top-of-mind concern for the animal feed industry. According to Alltech, global surveys indicate that 98 percent of feed ingredients contain at least one mycotoxin - and 93 percent contain multiple mycotoxins. In the breakout session, "Mycotoxins ... & Much More," held at Alltech's 29th Annual International Symposium in Lexington, Ky., a rotating panel of eight speakers discussed advancements in contamination mitigation in three installments: detection and risk assessment; management; and solutions. 

While the first and last session focused on the technology behind mycotoxin management through testing instrumentation, data collection and, in cases of high contamination, adsorbent usage, the portion entitled "Mycotoxin Management" offered tips for identifying and monitoring critical control points as part of a mycotoxin risk management and prevention strategy.

Dr. Elizabeth Santin, a professor at the Federal University of Parana's department of veterinary medicine in Brazil, stressed the importance of knowing when and where mycotoxins are entering the supply chain. She points to the application of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points programs as an important tool for managing mycotoxins in feed mills.

Keeping in mind that grain is at its best the day it is harvested, the decline in condition and the increase of mycotoxin levels will likely rise once it is placed in storage. While in the bin and in transit, varied moisture levels produce ideal growth conditions for fungi, which may lead to the introduction and cultivation of new mycotoxins after initial tests have been conducted.

She suggests collecting samples when the grain is acquired to establish a baseline metric. Frequent sample testing in the mill allows the manufacturer to engage in preventative measures, such as moisture control or the introduction of binders, to fight potential mycotoxin losses.

"The only way to control [mycotoxins] is to know the problem exists, to identify the risk and take measures to address it - good sampling at critical points is the only way to know what you're working with," Santin says. "[The goal is to] mitigate mycotoxin risk and apply the hazard controls before you have problems in the animals." 

She offers these tips for managing critical control points:

 

  • Conduct mycotoxin analysis before the grain enters the mill
  • Monitor toxin levels while the grain is in storage
  • Perform a facility audit, evaluate storage conditions
  • Track the maintenance and condition of transportation units
  • Inspect equipment within the feed mill; identify accumulations; and establish a cleaning schedule
  • Make sure samples are collected correctly and tested with the proper equipment

 

Santin suggests conducting weekly tests at critical control points and reevaluating these points every six months to ensure they haven't changed. Also, be aware of new vulnerabilities. 

"Take proactive measures to control mycotoxins when you have few problems. If you do, you will have an opportunity to experience a real response," she concludes. 

The 29th edition of Alltech's Annual International Symposium attracted more than 2,300 attendees from 72 countries. The three-day event, held at the Lexington Convention Center in downtown Lexington, Ky., featured two plenary sessions and 21 diverse breakout sessions.