Familiarity in consumers of the issue of antibiotic resistance linked to drug residues in food is growing. The issues of Mycotoxins in feed and feed components makes fewer headlines but is no less a p...

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Food consumers globally are becoming increasingly discerning in selecting produce to fill their fridges, cupboards and, indeed, stomachs. Factors of choice are moving beyond taste, appearance and nutritional content. Public awareness of food safety is highly sensitized and increasingly proliferated through online news and social media headlines and few are immune.


Familiarity in consumers of the issue of antibiotic resistance linked to drug residues in food is growing, and there is an expectation for food producers to deal with it appropriately. The issues of Mycotoxins in feed and feed components makes fewer headlines but is no less a problem.

The occurrence of contamination in various grain crops is of growing concern as it has major implications for food and feed safety, food security and international trade. Worldwide, it is estimated that Mycotoxins are responsible for losses of up to 5-10% of crop production, according to a European Commission report

Contaminations are due to a series of events including weather conditions, possible climate change effects, land use, crop management as well as harvest, storage and processing techniques. Greater awareness of the issue, together with improved screening is key to effectively controlling the incidence of Mycotoxins in feed and food chains.

So what are Mycotoxins and why should food producers screen for them?


Mycotoxins are a group of naturally occurring metabolites produced by certain moulds. They occur in a variety of different crops that are colonised with filamentous fungi and in food products contaminated during processing and storage.  They can occur on a range of food products including cereals and grains, nuts, spices, dried fruits, apple juice and coffee and are most prevalent in warm and humid conditions.


Consumption of mycotoxins can result in significant adverse health effects in humans and animals and as a result, international food standards recommend that food producers carry out screening for mycotoxins.  To protect consumers, a tolerable daily intake (TDI) has been established which estimates the quantity of mycotoxin which someone can be exposed to daily over a lifetime without it posing a significant risk to health. More details of TDIs can be found at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/mycotoxins.htm



There are a range of mycotoxins which are of most concern from a food safety perspective. These include the aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2 and M1), ochratoxin A and toxins produced by Fusarium moulds, including fumonisins (B1, B2 and B3), trichothecenes (principally nivalenol, deoxynivalenol, T-2 and HT-2 toxin) and zearalenone.


Aflatoxins, including aflatoxin B1 are considered the most toxic and can damage DNA and cause cancer in animal species. There is also evidence that they can cause liver cancer in humans. Other mycotoxins have a range of other health effects including kidney damage, gastrointestinal disturbances, reproductive disorders or suppression of the immune system.


In order to protect consumer safety, rules and strict legislative limits for aflatoxins, ochratoxin A and Fusarium toxins in certain foodstuffs are set out in European Commission legislation. The legislation applies to the specified foods whether they are imported into the UK or produced in the UK.


Globally, the requirement for mycotoxin screening is varied. There are a number of special import conditions currently in place for some foods from certain third world countries (Africa in particular) where the risk from aflatoxin contamination is increased, which further improves consumer protection.  Compliance with internationally acceptable limits for mycotoxins (TDI) can be challenging for the food industry, requiring good plant protection, adequate storage and good manufacturing practices in order to keep levels below the limits.


Some crops are now being genetically engineered to detoxify mycotoxins in the field. Genetically engineered microorganisms producing purified enzymes can detoxify mycotoxins during storage and processing of raw materials in food production. Advocates of such enzymatic detoxification of mycotoxins argue that this approach uses generic technology to make food healthier. However, there is a considerable lobby against genetic engineering of food therefore this may not be an acceptable route for some food producers to take.


How then can food producers tackle the issue of mycotoxins to ensure international food safety standards are being met?


A growing awareness of the issues surrounding excessive Mycotoxin consumption has resulted in an increase in available screening technologies on the market. Randox Food Diagnostics offers a range of market-leading screening tools for the qualitative analysis of mycotoxins, using both the unique patented Biochip Array Technology (BAT) and high quality ELISAs.


Randox’s cutting-edge BAT arrays allow fast, comprehensive and sensitive screening of all of the world’s most prevalent mycotoxins in arrays of 10, 7 or 3 assays, as follows:



With a single 50µl sample of feed the user will obtain highly accurate quantitative results in under 2 hours.  Sample preparation is straightforward: add solvent, vortex for 60 seconds and roll for 10 minutes, centrifuge for ten minutes then dilute, meaning the sample is ready for testing within 20 minutes, with no need for Immunoaffinity Columns.  Using Randox BAT eliminates the need for costly single tests, and lowers the cost per sample, saving food testing laboratories time and money.


Using Randox Biochip technology provides labs the flexibility to test only those mycotoxins of concern. This means that test assays can be specified to screen for particular mycotoxins depending on factors such as storage or harvest conditions.


In external and internal studies Randox Biochip technology is proven to deliver no false negatives and less than 5% false positives, with results showing close correlation to confirmatory methods. Importantly, Randox participates in FAPAS, the largest and most comprehensive analytical chemistry proficiency testing scheme in the food sector; ensuring that screening methods are providing accurate test results.


Benefits of Randox Biochip Array Technology at a glance:

  • Straightforward screening for 45 mycotoxins
  • Semi-quantitative results ready in under 2 hours
  • No false negatives, less than 5% false positives in studies
  • Only positive samples require confirmatory testing, saving labs money
  • Robust and easy to use with simple sample preparation for a single feed sample


For laboratories using ELISA screening, Randox offers an extensive (and expanding) range of ELISAs for 26 residues in 3 assays: Ergot Alkaloids, Aflatoxin M1 and Aflatoxin B1, as follows:


Ergot Alkaloids

Aflatoxin M1

Alfatoxin B1
















-Lysergic Acid




-Alfatoxin M1

-Alfatoxin B1

-Alfatoxin B2

-Alfatoxin G1

-Alfatoxin G2

-Alfatoxin M1

-Aflatoxin M2


Randox ELISAs are pre-coated with antibodies, offering detection that meets regulatory requirements, whilst savings labs times and ensuring rapid analysis. This offers excellent inter and intra assay precision that increases the reliability of results, ensuring less false positives and guaranteeing the best screening capability.


With global controls on food safety and contaminants becoming ever more complex, having the right technology is key to meeting those challenges now and in the future. Randox Food Diagnostics technology is tried and tested by many of the world’s leading food producers and is leading the market in mycotoxin screening. Visit www.randoxfooddiagnostics.com today for further information.


  1. http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/topics/2342-sfs-13-2015.html
  2. http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/farmingfood/mycotoxins
  3. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/mycotoxins.htm
  4. Karlovsky, P. Prof Dr: Enzymatic detoxification of mycotoxins for health food. www.newfoodmagazine.com/advent-calendar/enzymatic-detoxification-of-mycotoxins


RFD Press office

Randox Food Diagnostics digital press officer

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This is a landmark stride in food safety across board, man and lesser humans.