While several highly publicized incidents related to mycotoxins in food and feed have attracted worldwide media attention in recent years, including the 2013 aflatoxin contamination in Europe, new findings suggest that mycotoxins have a significant impact on livestock production in less headline-grabbing ways, such as impairing gut health.
“Research has implicated physiological and immunological effects at lower and more common levels of contamination that ultimately affects gastrointestinal tract functionality,” according to Prof. Todd Applegate of the University of Georgia. “These effects range from aflatoxins impacting endogenous nutrient loss from the intestinal tract, to deoxynivalenol triggering tight junction protein degradation” he explained.
Advances in mycotoxin detection and analytic techniques have shown the mycotoxin problem to be much larger and more diverse than once imagined. “We have developed a method capable of determining 380 fungal, bacterial and plant metabolites in cultures, cereals, food and feed products,” pointed out Prof. Rudolf Krska of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. This and other tools will help to extend the frontier of knowledge regarding mycotoxins.
“Much of what we currently know about the adverse effects of mycotoxins on both animal and human health are generally limited to exposure to a single mycotoxin,” stated Prof. Christopher Elliott of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast. “As the climate changes, as feed materials are being sourced from different parts of the world and novel sources of feed materials are being used the risk to exposure from many toxins simultaneously is now greater than ever before.”
Addressing this serious issue requires cutting-edge mycotoxin deactivation methods such as biotransformation which converts toxins into non-hazardous metabolites. While we correctly think of mycotoxins as noxious contaminants in animal feed, there is another perspective, according to Dr. Wulf-Dieter Moll of the BIOMIN Research Center.
“For certain specialized bacteria, mycotoxins are delicious nutrients. These bacteria use enzymes that break down mycotoxins. We can put some of these enzymes to use as feed additives,” explained Dr. Moll.
The enzymatic biotransformation approach has already had scientific and commercial success in FUMzyme®, a component of Mycofix® and the first-ever purified enzyme authorized by the EU proven to biotransform fumonisins into non-toxic metabolites.
“Biotransformation via feed additives is the most advanced method to protect livestock from the harmful effects of mycotoxins, and we expect it to play an even larger role in the future,” added Dr. Moll.
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