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Mycotoxins in Food (Part Two)

Mycotoxins are common occurrences in our food supply. If there is any type of health liability, the ingestion of mycotoxins only adds to the toxic load. There can be great benefit, therefore, in mycotoxin avoidance.

The veterinary world is well aware of this truth. The Center for Veterinary Medicine, part of the Food and Drug Administration, gave a startling presentation in 2006 listing specific mycotoxins and some of the health effects for animals and humans.

The following excerpts highlight some of the key findings of Dr. Michael Henry, as presented to the Risk Management Agency:

Aflatoxins

  • Produced by Aspergillus sp. (A. flavus and A. parasiticus)
  • Common feed substrates such as corn, cottonseed, peanuts, and sorghum.
  • Occur most commonly in warm, humid regions of the south and central regions of the U.S.
  • High levels of aflatoxins are associated with above-average temperature and below-average rainfall (micro-climate)

Vomitoxin

  • Produced by members of genus Fusarium (especially F. graminearum)
  • Commonly found on wheat, barley, rye and oats
  • Reported most frequently in cool, temperate regions (northern U.S. and Canada)
  • Member of the trichothecene family of mycotoxins
  • Inhibitor of protein synthesis, affecting GI tract and immune system
  • Swine most susceptible -- causing vomiting and feed refusal

Fumonisins

  • Produced by Fusarium sp. (F. verticillioides)
  • Found worldwide, mainly in corn and particularly corn screenings
  • High levels associated with hot and dry weather, followed by periods of high humidity
  • Three major fumonisins in feed are B1, B2 & B3 (B1 + B2 + B3 = total fumonisins)
  • Most susceptible species are horses (equine leukoencephalomalacia) and rabbits
  • Suspected carcinogens

Ochratoxin A

  • Produced by Aspergillus sp. (A. ochraceus) and Penicillium sp. (P. viridicatum)
  • Highest levels usually found in cereal grains (corn, barley, wheat and rye)
  • At least nine ochratoxins identified, but ochratoxin A is the most common and has the greatest toxicological significance
  • Nephrotoxic and a suspected carcinogen
  • No FDA action, advisory or guidance levels established for ochratoxin A in U.S. feed

Zearalenone

  • Produced by Fusarium sp. (primarily F. graminearum)
  • Common substrates are corn, wheat, barley, occasionally oats
  • Production favored by high humidity and low temperatures
  • Estrogenic mycotoxin, swine most susceptible – vulvar swelling in gilts
  • Toxicity related to reproductive system
  • No FDA action, advisory or guidance levels established for zearalenone in U.S. feed.

The full report can be viewed here.

The website Know Mycotoxins offers valuable information on mycotoxin management for animal feed. Here, too, we see a striking understanding of the dangers of crop contamination:

Any growing crop, including forage and cereals, is susceptible to mould, with Fusarium types being the main concern. Fusarium moulds can produce mycotoxins on the growing plant. Whilst the moulds themselves may not survive the transition from field to feeding trough, the mycotoxins will remain intact, though invisible to the naked eye. Feeds may therefore appear and analyse as high quality, but may harbour a mycotoxin(s) challenge.

From my perspective, what's healthy for animals is also healthy for me. Animals are at risk when they eat contaminated food. Are we any different? 

Quotes

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

Dedication