Selko 2022 Mycotoxin Review: Regional and seasonal challenges may be considered by feed manufacturers

The review provides insights that can help feed mills and livestock producers plan for existing and emerging mycotoxin threats.

masterlab image
March 1, 2023

Selko, the feed additive brand of Nutreco, is sharing findings from its 2022 Global Mycotoxin Review. Insights can help feed mills and livestock producers plan for existing and emerging mycotoxin threats.

More than 51,000 samples were collected from a network of 200 devices located around the globe in 2022. Samples were analyzed to assess the presence of mycotoxins and mycotoxin concentrations in raw ingredients and finished feeds. Samples were collected from 42 countries located in the production regions of Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and Asia. Mycotoxin contamination levels in samples ranged from 31% to 69%.

Insights from the analysis reveal that diverse factors, such as climate change, soil conditions, seasonality, and storage conditions, influenced both the presence and concentrations of mycotoxins.

The review also offers insights on mycotoxin threats that may warrant extra attention in the near future. For example, in the latter part of 2022, the presence of T2H2 and fumonisins in some samples began to increase. Additional analysis will offer insights into how much risk these mycotoxins may pose in 2023, particularly for countries importing ingredients from affected regions.

Testing findings

Collected samples of grains, protein meals, grain byproducts, silages and complete feeds were tested for multiple mycotoxins including aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), fumonisin, ochratoxin, T2/HT2 and zearalenone (ZEA).

When all samples were analyzed, T2/HT2 toxins had the highest percentage of contamination (69%) followed by aflatoxin (66%) and ZEA (65%), while ochratoxin was found least often – in 31% of samples. Toxins with the highest concentrations included DON and fumonisin, which averaged 1058ppb and 1414ppb, respectively. However, the median concentration for both contaminants was much lower – 527ppb and 650ppb, respectively.

Regional and seasonal challenges

As mycotoxin presence varies by region, producers should consider the origin of imported ingredients. Commodity samples from Latin America were most likely to have the highest contamination percentages for fumonisin and ZEA and least likely to have T2/HT2 contamination. In Asia, more samples had detectible levels of aflatoxin than in other regions. In North America, a major exporter of grains, 100% of samples were positive for DON - because of cooler growing conditions - ochratoxin, T2/HT2 and ZEA.

In Africa and the Middle East, ZEA was found in more than 90% of samples analyzed which can be considered an import challenge.

Mycotoxin contamination levels change throughout the year. As mycotoxins are linked to conditions in the field and during storage, the weather may influence toxins’ presence and severity. Changes in field and storage conditions can create new patterns of toxin development.

Regionally, aflatoxin peaked in June and July in Latin America and in November and December for Asia but was relatively flat for other regions. Ochratoxin was high at the start of the year for most regions and declined through the rest of the year – the exception being Latin America which had a peak in July and August. DON was relatively consistent across regions except for Latin America, which tended to increase toward the middle of the year before declining. Zearalenone was high in January for North America but steadily declined although there was more increase throughout the year for Europe and Asia. T2/HT2 tended to be consistent throughout the year regardless of region, while fumonisin saw a steady increase in Asia and growth from January to June and September to December in Latin America. Staying alert to months or seasons when higher levels of specific contaminants can assist with prevention and mitigation efforts.

Considering species risk, commodity contamination

Different species have specific sensitivities to mycotoxin exposure and specifically, young animals can have a more severe response. “When evaluating feed ingredients and formulating feeds it is important to consider the types and concentrations of mycotoxins that may be present. For example, maize is a major ingredient in many feeds, and maize by-product samples tested in 2022 tended to include higher levels of DON and fumonisins,” the company said.

Most of the complete feeds tested were for swine, broilers or laying hens, however, feeds for pets, aquaculture and ruminants were also examined.

Broiler feed tended to have a higher concentration of fumonisin than layer feed, while swine feed saw most of its contamination from DON and fumonisin. Piglet feed had less mycotoxin contamination compared to feeds for sows or grower-finisher pigs. Ruminant feed saw highest presence in parts per billion from DON and fumonisins.

Some mycotoxins have a synergistic effect, which can lead to effects worse than the harm presented by either contaminant on its own. Ongoing research is focusing on how the duration and sequence of exposure to different toxins may influence animal responses.

Mitigating mycotoxins

Feeds contaminated with a range of mycotoxins expose livestock to multiple challenges threatening various internal organs and processes. For example, the presence of aflatoxins, fumonisins and ochratoxins can damage the liver and kidneys and interfere with immune system function, while ZEA interrupts the reproductive system. T2/HT2 toxins and DON damage the gut and immune system functions.

Mycotoxins cannot all be managed with the same mitigation strategy. For example, aflatoxins respond well to binding agents, while fumonisins, and DON, don’t bond well to agents added to feeds. Mitigation tools must contain multiple modes of action such as means to reduce the bioavailability of mycotoxins. Mitigation tools should also contain ingredients capable of enhancing immunity, gut health and the anti-oxidant status of animals.


Research, analysis and modeling are informing new interventions to mitigate mycotoxin risk. Selko collaborates with universities and research centers around the world to leverage rapid analysis tools, predictive models, and develop mitigation tools deploying multiple modes of action – such as the TOXO portfolio. Informed by global research, the TOXO portfolio includes mycotoxin binders with ingredients that promote gut health and support immune modulation, bringing a 3D approach to mycotoxin mitigation.