Based on the results of this survey, which was conducted immediately after the 2016 harvest, the current corn crop in Poland should not automatically be considered safe for inclusion into finished feed rations for all animal species. A degree of vigilance is prudent.
The survey included 86 corn samples from across Poland. All samples were collected almost immediately after the harvest from farms or animal feed production sites. Sample providers were advised to follow the principles of good sampling. Analytical personnel and/or laboratory staff were not involved in the sampling and did not influence any part of this procedure. More than 600 analyses were conducted to test for the occurrence of the 8 mycotoxins most frequently found in agricultural commodities intended for animal production. The survey provided an insight into the incidences of aflatoxin B1 (AfB1), ochratoxin A (OTA), zearalenone (ZEN), deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, fumonisin B1 (FB1) and fumonisin B2 (FB2).
The results showed that almost 48 percent and 44 percent of the corn samples were contaminated with DON and T-2 toxin, respectively. Unexpectedly, more than 53 percent of the samples contained HT-2 toxin. None of the samples were contaminated with OTA or AfB1. The average concentrations of all recovered mycotoxins were medium.
All eight mycotoxins were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC MS/MS). For the purpose of data analysis, non-detection levels were based on the limits of quantification (LOQ) of the test method for each mycotoxin: AfB1 < 0.5 μg/kg; ZEN < 10 μg/kg; DON < 75 μg/kg; FB1 < 125 μg/kg; FB2 < 50 μg/kg; OTA < 1 μg/kg; T-2 toxin < 4 μg/kg and HT-2 toxin < 4 μg/kg.
More results detail
The highest concentration of DON detected in one of the samples reached 2200 μg/kg. Fifty percent of the samples contained ZEN, a mycotoxin affecting fertility performance of all animal species. The ZEN average concentration reached 250 μg/kg which is high, especially for sows and piglets.
Unexpectedly, the results showed that the average concentration of DON was 503 μg/kg which is significant. Several samples were contaminated with two to four mycotoxins at the same time, which may lead to synergistic interactions among them.
The maximum concentration of T-2 toxin found in one of the corn samples was 759 µg/kg. This high concentration may have a significant effect on health and performance of farm animals, especially young and breeding poultry and all swine categories.
Comparing mycotoxin contamination of corn from the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, contamination levels in 2014 were significantly higher than the subsequent two years. All parameters were higher in 2014. Based on these results, it can be assumed that 2016 is an average year in terms of corn mycotoxin contamination in Poland. The results are better than those from 2014 but not as good as those from 2015.
Vigilance is always advisable as cereals in animal feeds originate from many sources. Some continental European cereals and South American soya harvested in 2016 have been shown to be contaminated with medium to high concentrations of mycotoxins.
The last possible line of defense is the detoxification of mycotoxins in vivo. The addition of proven mycotoxin deactivators to animal feeds is a very common method to prevent mycotoxicosis and is an effective strategy to keep mycotoxin risk low under any and all conditions.