Grain quality control and mycotoxins
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rain quality is of the utmost importance, and if it’s not something you’ve been paying close attention to then you could be putting your supply chain and reputation at risk. Grains and seeds are highly volatile, and their quality can be influenced by a number of key factors, such as the environment, weather conditions and propagation techniques. Not only this, but grains are also susceptible to moulds during cultivation and storage which can pose as a great risk to quality.
For readers who may not know much about mycotoxins, they are a group of naturally occurring toxins produced by certain fungi, commonly known as moulds, which are harmful to humans, domestic animals and livestock. They can develop on grain and seeds during cultivation (Fusarium species) and some types can remain in the soil around infected grains. However, it should be noted that they could also develop during storage (Penicillium species) especially when levels of moisture are heightened. They can be found in a wide range of foods and feeds, particularly in areas with climates of high temperature and humidity. Mycotoxins can then enter the food or feed chain through contaminated crops, in particular via cereals, but also nuts, beans, spices, dried fruit, oil seeds, coffee and cocoa, poultry meat and kidneys, pig kidneys and pork sausages. Contamination may also occur post-harvest during storage, transport, and processing stages of the food or feed supply chain.
Mycotoxin prevalence and effects
The prevalence of mycotoxins varies significantly across the globe, yet they can be classified into six main groups – aflatoxins, trichothecenes, fumonisins, zearalenone, ochratoxin and ergot alkaloids. Each of these different groups has different physiological effects on human and animal health. Typically, they have an immunosuppressant effect, which can lead to a reduced ability to fight disease and infection, but they can also have multiple other side effects. Mycotoxins range in their level
Figure 1: Biochip Carrier and Discrete Test
68 | May 2017 - Milling and Grain
Figure 2: Evidence Investigator
of toxicity and can affect humans and animals in different ways depending on the level of exposure and age of the individual. Many can be carcinogenic, so their prevention is of key importance to grain producers. Grain storage has a direct impact upon frequency. Poor storage conditions or fluctuations in temperature/humidity can increase the risks of mycotoxins developing. Often termed as the ‘invisible enemy’ as in many cases they are not easy to identify with the exception of Ergot Alkaloids, which alters the structure of the grains. As a result, quality control of grains needs to be completed within a laboratory setting and highlights the importance of frequent grain screening, as not all are visible to the naked eye. Recent research has shown that co-occurrence is becoming more prevalent, meaning that multiple mycotoxins can infect a single grain or batch. Co-occurrence poses as an additional threat to feed and food producers as they can have a negative synergistic effect on human and animal health. This surge in the co-occurrence of mycotoxins within grains means there has never been a more important time to begin multi-mycotoxin screening, ensuring that grains are not being wrongly approved as free from mycotoxins.
Preventative mycotoxin screening
You’ll now be aware that mycotoxins are a growing threat and pose risks to both animal and human health. As noted you can’t always tell if grain will contain them or if they fall in line with global regulations, which means that accurate multi-mycotoxin screening is paramount in ensuring that your grain is safe. Even with excellent management, low levels may still exist in grains. Having the right technology is key to ensure that they’re detected quickly and adequately monitored. Randox Food Diagnostics have been transforming the landscape of conventional mycotoxin screening by developing and manufacturing high quality, reliable screening solutions for the global feed and food industries. Randox Food offers a unique solution to provide multiple results from a single sample. Our patented Biochip Array Technology (BAT) offers users the ability to run one test, which provides quantifiable results for up to 10 compounds from a single sample. This novel product reduces the
Figure 3: MycoFlex Array