UK Mycotoxin Update

From January to March 2020, 10 UK samples were analysed for mycotoxins, including Grain, Silage and TMR using  Mycocheck accredited analysis.

Pie chart showing 60% Silage, 30% TMR, and 10% Grain

Positive Samples

80 % of the samples tested positive for at least one mycotoxin.  Many samples were contaminated with multiple mycotoxins.

Pie chart showing 80% positive samples and 20% negative samples

Mycotoxin Occurrence

Deoxynivalenol (DON), Zearalenone (ZON), Fumonisin B1 and Fumonisin B2 were detected in the samples.

70 % of samples were contaminated with DON, the most prevalent mycotoxin in the United Kingdom, closely followed by Zearalenone which was found in 60 % of samples.  30 % of samples were found to be contaminated with Fumonisin B1 or B2.  These toxins are all produced by Fusarium mould species, which are commonly found in the UK.

Bar chart showing 70% DON, 60% ZON, 30% FB1, and 30% FB2 contamination

Toxin Levels

On average DON was found at the highest concentration at 335 ppb. The average ZON concentration was 41 ppb, following the typical 10:1 DON:ZON ratio for UK climates. Fumonisin B1 and B2 were found at concentrations of 255 ppb and 74 ppb respectively.

Bar chart showing average mycotoxin contamination levels

The detected concentrations are lower than the regulatory limits for mycotoxins in animal feeds, but not lower than the levels known to cause productivity issues.

The relatively high occurrence of Zearelenone should be a concern to dairy farms, where Zearalenone can cause issues with fertility and milk production.  Fumonisin is known to cause issues with the liver and kidneys in ruminants as the rumen has less ability to degrade Fumonisins than other mycotoxins.

Because acute symptoms are unlikely to present themselves, it is important to test feed materials to identify the risk from mycotoxins.

Rob F May 4, 2020

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