Mycotoxin Guide - Cannabis Industry

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Mycotoxin Guide Cannabis Industry

What are mycotoxins? Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain fungi — including mushrooms, yeasts and molds — that grow on plants. When the growth conditions are just right, specific fungi will grow rapidly into colonies, and produce mycotoxins as a by-product. Growth conditions can include temperature, humidity and available organic food sources. These conditions will affect not just whether a specific fungus will grow, but also the characteristics of the mycotoxin that it may produce. Mycotoxins can be produced wherever fungi growth conditions exist, whether a plant is still growing or has been harvested, stored or been extracted from. As with any toxin, mycotoxins can be harmful to those who ingest them, and the fungi producing them can impact the quality of the plant affected. Although thousands of mycotoxins have been identified by researchers, two are particularly important to the cannabis industry: aflatoxin and ochratoxin.

Af latox in is a carcinogenic toxin produced by certain strains of the molds Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. When ingested in excessive amounts, it can cause chronic health problems, liver damage or cancer, among other issues. Ochratox in, commonly produced by the molds Aspergillus ochraceus and Penicillium viridicatum, may be found on its own or in conjunction with aflatoxin. Some evidence suggests that ochratoxin might be carcinogenic, like aflatoxin. For more information on aflatoxin, ochratoxin and other mycotoxins, check out NEOGEN’s Mycotoxin Handbook.

Mycotoxins can’t be cleaned or purged from a plant once produced, so products containing above a certain level of mycotoxin cannot be safely provided to consumers. In protecting consumers and brand reputation, a reliable mycotoxin testing program is essential.

Detecting mycotoxins NEOGEN offers a quantitative line of easy-to-use mycotoxin test kits that can be conducted anywhere and offer results in just minutes. Several of our kits have been validated for use with hemp samples. Test with confidence

Other readers vs Raptor Reader Sample Prep

Sample Prep



Add diluent

Add diluent

Add test strip

Select test on reader

Incubate/Set timer

Add lot info to reader Prepare test strip for reader Place test strip in reader, hit start Get results

Pipette sample into cartridge Get results

With Reveal® Q+ for Aflatoxin, an FGIS-approved test, a sample can be tested for aflatoxin in just six minutes. The test is a simple lateral flow test — a strip imbued with antibodies that are used to detect the target, in this case aflatoxin — that detects at the sensitive range of 3–100 parts per billion (ppb). Reveal Q+ MAX for Ochratoxin, another lateral flow test, can be conducted in five minutes with a range of 2–100 ppb. Both tests are paired with NEOGEN’s Raptor® or Raptor Solo readers. After simply adding the test strip and sample, the reader automatically conducts the test, allowing you to walk away. Minutes later, reliable, quantitative results are provided. Raptor can run up to three tests at once, and the portable Raptor Solo allows you to conduct tests anywhere and everywhere. Both offer seamless data integration, so you can easily track your records. Why Raptor? Other methods of testing require multiple hands-on steps that are potential sources of operator error and require close monitoring. So many touchpoints can potentially jeopardize the integrity of your data. As an automated system, Raptor improves the efficiency of your testing by eliminating operator error and increasing productivity. Other testing methods NEOGEN’s Veratox® for Aflatoxin is also validated for testing. In just five minutes a simple color-change reaction occurring in a few microwells can be compared to a range of control samples, indicating a ppb range that the level of contamination corresponds to. With the best technical support team in the industry, NEOGEN will help you integrate these tests into your workflows, empowering you to reduce costs and preserve brand reputation.


Can you use blacklights to detect aflatoxin? Studies on corn have shown that using a blacklight to detect aflatoxin produces unreliable results. The fluorescence of the light can detect kojic acid, another by-product of A. flavus, but not aflatoxin itself. Aflatoxin can be produced without the presence of kojic acid and vice versa. The other major producer of aflatoxin, A. parasiticus, doesn’t even produce kojic acid at all. Scientific testing is the best way to detect the presence of mycotoxins.


Mycotoxin Proficiency Testing Programs Although lateral flow mycotoxin tests are simple to train and run, human error when sampling or harder-to-identify factors can still skew results. A mycotoxin proficiency testing program is how operations make sure that their testing procedures are being conducted effectively. It’s an important part of any quality assurance program.

Under NEOGEN’s Mycotoxin Proficiency Testing Program: 1. We send you ready-to-test samples that have a predetermined level of mycotoxin contamination. 2. Your team tests the samples and submits the results, documenting testing technique, proficiency and capabilities, verifying against the predetermined level. 3. We’ll send you a confidential report comparing participant results to consensus results. 4. If your results don’t match, we’ll help you troubleshoot the issue. Sign up and learn more at our website.


LabLive LabLive is a free training and troubleshooting web service that links you directly to a NEOGEN product specialist for an individualized, interactive session. Upon scheduling a session, we’ll mail you a portable webcam that you can use to demonstrate proficiency for certification, learn new assay techniques and troubleshoot with our experts. Live and personal — no travel required. Learn more online.

Training Videos See how easy mycotoxin testing is with NEOGEN’s video guides to using our mycotoxin test kits.

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