MILL MAINTENANCEUnderstanding the threat from mycotoxins
- A comparison of mycotoxin testing techniques, regulations and best practices for flour and feed milling
by Clare Milligan, Product Manager, R-Biopharm Rhône Ltd
t has been known for some years that cereal commodities can contain mycotoxins. With the gradual increase of human life expectancy, it has now been proven that these natural toxins contribute to certain forms of cancers in both humans and animals.
Invasion of foods and feed by moulds under certain storage or environmental con-ditions, such as high moisture and/or specific temperatures, can lead to the development of these highly toxic components. There are many different types of myco- toxins, the most common and dangerous of which are aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1 and G2). However, legislation also exists for other mycotoxins such as ochratoxin A, deoxyni-valenol, fumonisins, zearalenone and patulin.Aflatoxins are produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus and are often associated with commodities grown in tropical regions including various nuts, maize, dried fruits and spices. Mycotoxins such as ochratoxin A are found in cold to temperate climates, but can often be found in similar commodities to aflatoxins including dried fruits, coffee, cocoa, cereals, herbs and animal feed ingredients. Fumonisins, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone and T-2 and HT-2 toxins are produced by vari-ous Fusarium species and are mainly found in maize and maize-based commodities while patulin is commonly found in apple juice and purees.
Surveillance plans for cereals
Due to the prevalence of mycotoxins in cereals, cereal products and animal feed there has been growing concern for human and animal safety resulting in increased sur-veillance plans for cereals and retail products to generate data on consumer exposure to the range of Fusarium mycotoxins in the human diet. Legislation is currently in place (1126/2007/EC) for most of the Fusarium mycotoxins including DON, fumonisin, zea-ralenone and in March 2013 recommenda- tions were introduced for T-2 and HT-2 (2013/165/EU). See Figure 1 for further information on current EU Legislation in Food.Currently there are a wide variety of tests available for the detection of mycotoxins. These include ‘traditional’ methods such as thin layer chromatography and more rapid tests such as enzyme immunoassays or lateral flow devices commonly known as dipstick tests. However, for more sensitive analysis of mycotoxins, immunoaffinity columns are commonly used to allow legislative levels to be easily and accurately quantified by HPLC or LC-MS/MS. With the increase in mycotoxin legisla- tion there is a growing need for fast, simple and accurate methods for both quantifying or screening mycotoxins, which are, not only capable of detecting the legislative levels but also of meeting the analytical criteria laid down by the European Commission. R-Biopharm have developed a complete range of test formats including ELISAs, cards, lateral flow tests and immunoaffinity columns to allow users to comply with both European and International Mycotoxin regulations.
The method of choice
Immunoaffinity columns are the standard method of choice for regulatory mycotoxin analysis, however, there is also the need for columns, which can offer multi-mycotoxin analysis in conjunction with either HPLC or LC-MS/MS using a single extraction method. The company has therefore developed a number of new multi-mycotoxin immu-noaffinity columns including AFLAOCHRA PREP
T-2 & HT-2 and AO ZON PREP
for use in conjunction with HPLC and the most recent additions to it’s product line are DZT MS-PREP
and AOF MS-PREP
for simultaneous detection of mycotoxins in conjunction with LC-MS/MS (see Figure 2).The multi-mycotoxin columns are pro-duced using more than one monoclonal antibody bound to a solid support within