Mycotoxins – Mould Toxins in Foodstuffs
Mycotoxins are predominantly generated by the mould species Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium. Because of their to some extent considerable stability, these substances often survive processing and conservation. This constitutes a great challenge for all links in the food and feedstuffs production chain.
Aflatoxins are the best described representatives of the family of mycotoxins. They are highly toxic to the liver and highly carcinogenic and are generated by Aspergillus flavus and other kinds of mould. Distinction is made between different compounds (Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2), which share the same basic structure, a furocumarin system. Their fluorescence characteristics (B = blue, G = green fluorescence under UV light) are of great value also for analytical verification. If lactating livestock ingest feedstuffs containing aflatoxins, their milk contains, for example, aflatoxin M1, which was formed in the body from aflatoxin B1 (M = metabolised).
Patulin, which is predominantly generated by Penicillum expansum, is mainly found in apple and pear products when rotten fruit was included in their production. Brown decay spots can exhibit up to 1 g patulin/kg. Patulin has a toxic effect on the liver and is carcinogenic in animal tests.
Fusaria infest in particular corn and maize, usually already on the field; they can occur also in the event of unfavourable storage conditions. Fusaria can generate a number of mycotoxins with very different structures.
Deoxynivalenol is a trichothecene and probably the most frequently occurring mycotoxin in food and feedstuffs. The synonymously used name vomitoxin indicates one of its effects, vomiting; in addition, diarrhoea and skin reactions are frequent complaints after its ingestion through food. A carcinogenic and genetically harmful effect has not been described.
Zearalenone is likewise generated by various species of Fusaria, in part also by those generating deoxynivalenol. Zearalenone is of low toxicity, but is highly oestrogenic and anabolic.
Fumonisins are generated by Fusarium moliniforme. This fungus is mostly found on maize. Fumonisins have a carcinogenic effect on the liver and act as a tumour promoter.
Ochratoxin A was first identified in Aspergillus ochraceus. By now it is known that it is predominantly generated also by other species of Aspergillus in warmer climates and by species of Penicillum in moderate climates. Contamination is known to occur mostly in corn, coffee, cocoa, grapes, peanuts and dried fruit. It is teratogenic, cancerogenic and immunosuppressive in addition to damaging the kidneys and liver.
European and German law stipulate thresholds for mycotoxins for food and feedstuffs.
Our services in the field of mycotoxin analysis:
Due to their to some extent very high toxicity, the analysis of mycotoxins places extremely high demands on analysis methods. At our WESSLING laboratories, experienced employees work with state-of-the-art analysis technology for the sensitive, fast and reliable assay of these substances in food and feedstuffs. They use column and immunoaffinity chromatography sample preparation techniques and subsequent high performance liquid chromatography and tandem, mass spectrometry, UV photodiode array and fluorescence detection. The quality of our analyses is ensured by regular internal and external performance checks, enabling us to guarantee you the highest degree of reliability.
A competent team of food analysts, chemists and biologists subsequently supports you in assessing the marketability of your products. Experienced experts are certified for the analysis of official check tests as per Article 43 of the German Food and Feed Code (LFGB).
Our accreditation as per DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 ensures you global recognition of our results.