Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced by molds and fungi that especially threaten food crops and grain. They appear in field crops from toxigenic and plant pathogenic fungi during the growing season. Researchers believe that their emergence is mainly the result of poor environmental controls and other crop susceptibility factors. They also account for considerable economic costs to the feed and food industries.
In Southeast Asia, the mycotoxin risk is considered extreme as the production and the demand for raw materials used in animal feed are rising every year. According to the Biomin Mycotoxin Survey, the most prevalent mycotoxins in the region during the first half of 2020 were fumonisin, aflatoxin, Don, and zearalenone, which were found over the maximum recommended levels in more than 70 percent of the samples tested in the survey.
As Asia relies substantially on the livestock and aquaculture sectors as economic pillars, having an effective mycotoxin prevention strategy in place is of utmost importance for key stakeholders such as nutritionists, veterinarians, researchers, and raw material handlers across the agro-food chain.
This has led to the growing mycotoxin testing market in Asia. Some of the major factors which have led to the rapid rise for food testing and particularly, mycotoxin testing are:
There are many methods to determine the presence of mycotoxins in a variety of foods and feeds. Besides performance, other key criteria include the speed of analysis, level of technical skills required to perform the assay, and whether the assay provides a qualitative or quantitative result. Below are some of the methods used.
Rapid screening methods:
While there is increasing demand for rapid and simple methods which are easier to use in the field, there is also a growing preference for more reliable reference methods which can detect the largest possible number of toxins within a single analysis. These include:
Apart from this, there is also a demand for extraction methods that require less harmful organic extraction solvents without a loss of quality of analysis. As detection technologies continue to advance, we will continue to witness more improvements around mycotoxin analysis. While some are in their advanced stages of development, others still need to overcome the hurdles in making the transition from proof-of-concept assays using toxins in buffer solutions, to the analysis of real food samples.
The rising presence of mycotoxin in food together with stricter regulations means that manufacturers and food producers must turn to more sensitive and reliable analytical methods that can provide the appropriate tests at an affordable cost.
As an expert in food safety, testing, and analysis, DKSH’s knowledge of Asian markets and our scientific instruments can ensure that your business can meet the required food safety quality, authenticity, and adulteration requirements in your laboratories and manufacturing. Contact us to learn more.
Marco Farina joined DKSH in February 2016 as General Manager, Business Line Scientific Instrumentation, Business Unit Technology. He oversees global business development and has spent the last 10 years developing and growing business in different emerging markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia. He now lives in Bangkok with his wife and two kids.