Mycotoxin Challenge: Special Focus on Livestock Production
The feed supply chain is a priority for all livestock production systems. Feed quantity and safety are intimately linked; the origin of feedstuffs, processing, handling and storage, as well as other factors related to market, can affect both quality and safety of feed at different levels. Among the most important safety and security risks for the feed industry and the feed supply chain are mycotoxins, presenting high risk with enormous consequences on health, economies and international trade. The possibility of toxin carry-over, feed contamination also present a hazard for the safety of food of animal origin and contribute to mycotoxin intake in humans. Exposure of animals to mycotoxins is of particular concern because of the detrimental additive and/or synergic effects of co-contamination. Generally, environmental conditions such as excessive moisture, temperature extremes, humidity, drought conditions, insect damage, crop systems and agronomic practices can cause stress and predispose plants in the field to mold and determine the severity of mycotoxin contamination. The complexity of mycotoxin interactions varies according to animal species, level and type of mycotoxin contamination and the duration of exposure. Despite efforts to control fungal contamination, extensive mycotoxin contamination has been reported in both developing and developed countries. Risks of these toxins in animal feeds can be controlled in either pre- or post-harvest stages of feed processing. Main strategies for prevention at pre-harvest stage have been noted to include proper agronomic practices, use of resistant varieties, application of non-toxigenic fungal strains, minimizing both insect and mechanical damage; while post-harvest approaches involve drying and cleaning of commodities, storage in facilities that provide protection from excessive moisture, use of pesticides and other appropriate antifungal agents and protection from rodents and insects. At policy level, regulatory authorities need to take steps that address issue of aflatoxin contamination to safeguard consumers and preserve livestock, especially in the poultry industry as well as the socio-economic benefits. Additionally, quality control strategies should be implemented and efforts to safeguard food sources and utilization enhanced for security, especially in rural areas of developing countries. Mycotoxin reduction requires a multifaceted approach, including farmers, government agencies, food processors and scientists
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