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Why you should be testing for mycotoxin contamination

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi that contaminate commodities before, during, or after harvest and can have toxic effects in humans and animals.

They are classed as secondary metabolites because they are not considered essential for the ‘primary’ purpose of growth and reproduction in fungi. Nevertheless, secondary metabolites have important roles, such as helping the fungus to invade plant tissue and as defence against insect predators or competing fungi.

Of a vast range of secondary metabolites produced by fungi, only some are regarded as mycotoxins, and these can affect an array of food and feed, especially cereals, forages, grain, fruits, herbs, spices, nuts and manufactured products.  Of most interest are:

  • Aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2 and M1)
  • Ochratoxin A
  • Patulin and fusarium moulds, including fumonisins (B1, B2 and B3)
  • Trichothecenes (principally nivalenol, deoxynivalenol, T-2 and HT-2 toxin)
  • Zearalenone
  • Ergot alkaloids, citrinin, sterigmatocystin and alternaria toxins

As mycotoxins can cause a variety of adverse health effects in humans including, kidney and liver damage, gastrointestinal disturbances, reproductive disorders or suppression of the immune system,  contamination is of significant concern worldwide and to protect consumer safety there are strict limits in place within the EU and the UK for aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin and fusarium toxins in certain foodstuffs.


It is highly recommended that testing for mycotoxin contamination is carried out in a laboratory which holds ISO17025 accreditation in this specific area.


Minerva Scientific Limited holds such accreditation for a wide range of mycotoxins through UKAS, carrying out testing using high technology equipment and highly trained, experienced staff.

If you require further information on how we can help you with your mycotoxin testing requirements please visit our website www.minervascientific.co.uk or contact us by mail admin@minervascientic.co.uk

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