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Mycotoxins meeting the global challenge


2012’s extreme weather conditions – in the US one of the worst droughts in recent history, in Northern and Western Europe one of the wettest summers – have highlighted one of the most complex problems for the pet industry: that of mycotoxins in pet foods. Moulds thrive in damp,


humid conditions, whilst the stress caused to crops during drought are also key triggers for mycotoxin production. Either way, the


global mycotoxin challenge is greater in 2013, and more worrying, than it has been for many years. Aflatoxin, for example, capable of causing serious illness, even death, is a by-product of the Aspergillus mould that has flourished on corn during last year’s US drought. According to crop insurance data from the US Department of Agriculture, payouts for mycotoxins, of which Aflatoxins are the most common in the US, have reached almost US$75 million in 2013, three times the 2012 level, with 85% of claims filed in the six states hardest hit by the drought. “At the same time as problems in the US, here in the UK, extreme


wet weather during the flowering of cereals led to a greater incidence of Fusarium mycotoxins,” says Terry McArdle, European Pet Manager for Alltech, “with the strains produced out in the field typically being Type B (DON) and type A (T-2) mycotoxin and, according to HGCA testing, at the highest level for many years. What’s more, due to


climate change, Aspergillus – the causal mould for Aflatoxin – is now also being found in maize from southern Europe, providing us with the potential threat of ‘home made’ Aflatoxin mycotoxins.”


HGCA – concentrations of DON mycotoxins in harvested wheat 2001-2012


DON Number


Incidence,% Mean


Median >1250ppb,%


2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 182 77 41 17 0


152 99


305 140 3.9


175 98


584 306 13.1


152 97


202 77 2


Data from HGCA project RD-2008-3573


New ingredients, new challenges Alongside traditional grains such as wheat, maize and rice, rising feed prices have meant that a greater variety of carbohydrates such as tapioca, sweet potato and pea flour have become popular as pet food ingredients. With these materials also subject to extreme weather, harvested and stored in a great variety of conditions and transported over long distances the risk of mould and fungi growth – and, as a result, mycotoxin contamination – becomes increasingly high. New challenges to the pet industry are also presenting themselves.


The levels of Fusarium T-2 and HT-2 toxins are causing concern with an EU Commission in March 2013 recommending member states to monitor the presence of the toxins to which cats, in particular, are extremely sensitive even at low doses. Alltech’s sophisticated mass spectrometry testing (the 37+ Program) has demonstrated that the prevalence of T-2 and HT-2 toxins in EU samples is around 40%.


Global survey To assess the size of the global problem, the Alltech Mycotoxin Management Team, headed by Global Sales Director Nick Adams, carried out a survey of the 2012 world harvest, using the Alltech 37+ Program, capable of simultaneously analyzing more than 37 mycotoxins. Sampling 965 feedstuffs from around the world the result showed the following contamination levels: 965 feedstuffs:


• • • •


PAGE 26 PET FOOD SUPPLEMENT ISSUE 15 98% with mycotoxins


93% with multiple strains 40% with over 5 mycotoxins Average of 8 mycotoxins


177 41 14


150 28 17


0


158 100 616


<10 <10 333 0


10.1


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