Frontiers Of Biology

Aflatoxin Awareness Helps Prevent Future Problems

A plant pathologist noted that the livestock feeding industry is in the lookout for high aflatoxin concentrations in imported grain. Mycotoxin was described as a group of very toxic substances. It is known to be caused by common fungi or molds that grow on the grain, feed or food in the field. These mycotoxins can be categorized into two groups. The first one is known as aflatoxin. Aflatoxins are commonly associated with corn, peanuts and cotton. The second one is referred to as fumonisins. Fumonisins are usually associated with corn and wheat. There are factors to be considered in the occurrence of the aflatoxin and fumonisin toxins. Environmental conditions like drought, insect damage and crop injury affects the occurrence of these toxins.

It should be noted that fumonisin is deadly to horses. This toxin may not have visible mold. However it can be detected by a starburst pattern on the kernel.It should be noted that these fungi exist in the soils. A change in humidity would allow them to germinate under peak conditions. Grain elevator operators as well as producers are encouraged to keep a closer look for grain contamination. It is necessary to conduct random sampling of the grains. This is to prevent cross contamination within the grain bins.

It was mentioned in the article that one of the concerns of the people is aflatoxin since massive amounts of corn are shipped into confined animal feeding industry including beef, swine and dairy cattle. Statistics indicated that there are seven million of beef cattle, three point five million of rower hogs and two hundred thousand of sows and a growing diary industry. It is advantageous to be always on the look out. Aflatoxins may be present in corn, peanuts and cotton seed. People involved in the dairy industry should be careful since there is no tolerance for aflatoxin in milk. Even a small trace of aflatoxin can mean that the whole batch of milk has to be discarded. Aflatoxicosis is a condition caused by the consumption of aflatoxin in younger animals, even in low to moderate levels. In the case of cattle, it can develop liver and kidney damage, depression of the immune system, reduction of weight and liver abscesses. If this happens, the entire carcass has to be condemned.

It was even highlighted that even human beings are not immune to the effects of the mycotoxin. Studies conducted revealed that if great amounts are inhaled daily, humans can develop a farmer’s lung as well as skin irritations, fever, wheezing, breathlessness, cough and ulcers.It is therefore necessary to prevent aflatoxin problems. The grain going into storage must be dried to thirteen percent moisture. Operators should be conscientious about storing procedures. The practice of putting the damaged corn on top of the good corn can contaminate the whole batch. If high moisture grain is not properly handled, there is a tendency for aflatoxin levels to escalate in a matter of few hours. Contaminated grain with one thousand parts per billion or more should be destroyed. Otherwise the grain can be screened and possibly blended with less contaminated corn. The corn cannot have greater than five hundred parts per billion of aflatoxin to qualify for blending.

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