The Wenger Group Focus On Mycotoxins
What We Do
At TWG, we offer the best-in-class mycotoxin management established by a differentiated Mycotoxin Risk Management program comprising of preventive, detective, and corrective control strategies. The preventive controls include our stringent specifications on mycotoxin levels for vulnerable ingredients; the detective controls include sophisticated multi-point testing capabilities including quantitative immunochromatographic assay for specific mycotoxins at the point of receipt, and a mass spectroscopic assay for a comprehensive mycotoxin panel using Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography with two mass spectrometry detectors (LC-MS/MS) at the in-house Nutrition & Quality Control Laboratory. The corrective controls implemented by the Nutrition Services function include the use of select proven nutritional technologies proven to minimize or nullify the adverse biological effects to counter potential mycotoxins that may end up in finished feed beyond all controls.
Grain receivers are trained to check compliance and are empowered to refuse loads that test high for mycotoxins. The sample is drawn from four different places on the truck per our sampling plan and split twice to get a representative sample of the entire load. The testing procedure involves more than 10 steps and can be conducted in under 10 minutes.
A history of average mycotoxin levels for suppliers is maintained and monitored, and suppliers are thereafter subjected to fitting stringent testing protocols based on their historical performance.
What are mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are toxic chemical substances produced by certain molds (fungi) found in soil. Not all molds that grow on agricultural products produce mycotoxins; the common mold species that produce, (e.g. grains) are species of Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium. Mycotoxins are the end and by-products of mold metabolism as they thrive and, therefore, are naturally found in agricultural products as they become infected by molds. Mycotoxins are prevalent all over the world and at any given point of time. Over 300 mycotoxins have been identified so far, but the most important ones of health and economic importance in livestock production are classified under aflatoxins, ochratoxins, fumonisins, zearalenones, and trichothecenes. Vomitoxin, which is also known as DON, is one of the trichothecenes.
Agricultural crops may be infected by the molds before, during, and after harvest if they find favorable temperature, moisture, and nutrients. Mycotoxins, when consumed by animals or humans, can produce harmful effects that vary by species, amounts, and length of time consumed. Those effects as part of feed intake can produce resistance to diseases or health and performance impacts. Although the molds in grains can be treated, mycotoxins, once formed, cannot be removed unless they are degraded by enzymes. There are certain nutritional technologies in the market proven to manipulate these mycotoxins in animal feed and prevent them from being absorbed by animals.
Mycotoxins are, to some extent, metabolized in the liver and excreted in urine (and milk) and, in the process, functions of these organs may also be affected. Certain mycotoxins are carried in animal products and are of concern to human health. A few mycotoxins are proven to be carcinogenic (eg. Aflatoxins). Given these impacts, regulatory authorities have laid down a set of guidelines as to acceptable levels of mycotoxins in grains, and feed, that must be complied with by producers in the agricultural and food sectors. These regulatory thresholds, which are not to be exceeded, provide the framework for testing for mycotoxins in grains. Please follow these links for more information:
What is aflatoxin and vomitoxin and how do they impact animal nutrition?
Aflatoxin is a group of mycotoxins produced by Aspergillus molds and are known to cause digestive system problems, lowered resistance to disease, reduced feed intake, and performance. Aflatoxins may also be carried in egg, milk, and meat and can be harmful to humans when consumed. Aflatoxins are also known to be carcinogenic. Vomitoxin, a trichothecene, (also known as DON or Deoxynivalenol) is a mycotoxin produced by certain Fusarium molds. Vomitoxin is relatively more toxic to simple stomach animals (pigs), where it causes feed refusal, vomiting, and poor performance.
What causes these toxins at the farm level and can they be avoided?
Mycotoxins come from molds; soil is the primary source of mold to agricultural crops. Molds find an opportunity to infect crops when they find their growth requirements—moisture and temperature—as the crops are already great sources of nutrients. Typical controlled farming practices that include crop protection programs eliminate the growth favoring conditions for the molds. For example, excessive moisture favors most molds, and delayed harvest or drought favors Fusarium molds (vomitoxin). The best way to avoid these at the farm level is to follow timely harvest and recommended crop protection programs. Agricultural products often get infected post-harvest if they are not stored properly. Moisture (humidity) and warm conditions promote mold growth. It is advisable to store in cool, dry conditions and/or mechanical or sun-dry the material to moisture levels that molds find it difficult to grow, or to treat the grain with approved preservatives (mold inhibitors sprays, fumigants, etc.)
Can the level of toxins change between harvest and delivery?
Yes. Once molds find a place in the grain, they continue to grow and continue to produce mycotoxins if they find favorable moisture and temperature that keep them alive. Molds are also known to produce excessive mycotoxins when they are stressed such as in drought conditions. When grains are dried or treated, molds may die, but the mycotoxins are not destroyed once formed.
Why do feed mills test incoming grains for mycotoxins? Are there regulatory requirements?
Federal regulatory agencies such as FDA/USDA have established levels for each mycotoxin based on the species being fed as “advisory” and “action” levels. You may refer to the FDA website for more details. All feed and food manufacturers are mandated to comply with these regulations. Therefore, feed mills test incoming ingredients for mycotoxins, accept those within acceptable levels, and reject when the levels are found to exceed thresholds.
Is testing of grain receipts from farms something new?
Testing of grain receipts has been a common practice at feed mills across the globe. At Wenger Feeds’ mill locations, all susceptible feed ingredients have been tested for mycotoxins upon receipt for compliance with regulatory requirements for decades. This has been a long-standing practice of the Company. All Wenger Feeds locations are equipped with state-of-the art equipment and a proven mycotoxin risk management program to test and accept only quality ingredients in its commitment to producing Quality Feed for Quality Food© as a nutrient company.
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