MYCOTOXINS
by Xenia Stavrinides
 

 

Aflatoxin is one of the most toxic and carcinogenic chemicals known.  It is the third highest cause of cancer death world wide. Aflatoxin is a serious threat to health.  Most people who have allergic reactions to peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter are reacting to "Aflatoxin" or to the pesticides used, and not necessarily the peanut. 

 

It's been reported in Canada and across the world that contamination is spreading, Therefore, highly toxic feed transported half way around the world seems seriously “off-brand” for organic. Many consumers willingly pay a price premium based on their belief that organic means safer/better*.   That trust is being seriously violated by the phenomenon behind the recent incidents. Incidents rarely ever covered by media. (Forbes)

 

Mycotoxins are highly toxic secondary metabolites which are produced by fungus organisms capable of causing diseases, illness and death in both humans and animals. (WHO)

 

Mycotoxins are toxins produced by fungi that quickly colonize and spread on more commonly grown grains such as wheat,  corn, barley, rye etc. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins, and several species may produce the same mycotoxin.

 

Mycotoxins greatly resist decomposition and do not break down during the digestion process, so they remain in the food chain. They remain in the meat (muscle), eggs and dairy products. Even temperature treatments, such as cooking, canning and deep freezing, do not destroy some mycotoxins.

 

Aflatoxins are a type of mycotoxin produced by the Aspergillus species of fungi,

Mycotoxins can appear in the food chain as a result of fungal infection of organic and non-organic crops, either by being consumed directly by people or by being used as livestock feed. (Nora Gulyas) Most commonly testing results have shown certified organic poultry feeds to be of especially higher toxicity.

 

Some of the health effects found in animals and humans include disease, cancer, death, identifiable illness, weakened immune system response and as allergens, food-allergies, immunodeficiency or irritants. Some mycotoxins are harmful to other micro-organisms too, such as other fungi or even bacteria; 

Penicillin is one example, and It has been suggested that mycotoxins in stored animal feeds both organic and non-organic,  poultry feeds are the cause of rare phenotypical sex changes in hens that causes them to look and act as males (roosters).

 

In the livestock feed and human consumables (food, beverage) industry it is common practice to add mycotoxin binding agents such as montmorillonite or bentonite clay in an attempt to adsorb the mycotoxins. Since not all mycotoxins can be bound to binding agents, other methods used as a potential mycotoxin control is mycotoxin deactivation. By means of:

enzymes (esterase, de-epoxidase)

yeast (Trichosporon mycotoxinvorans)

bacterial strains (EubacteriumBBSH 797 developed by Biomin)

nixtamalization

heat-treatment (which does not work)

RADIATION (proven to work with best results)

extraction with solvents

extraction by use of chemical or biological agents

 

Irradiation methods have proven to be effective treatment against mold growth and toxin production. (EPA)

 

In 2004 it was reported that in Kenya, 125 people died and nearly 200 others were treated after eating aflatoxin-contaminated maize. Mycotoxicosis is the term used for human poisoning associated with mycotoxins. The symptoms of mycotoxicosis depend on the type of mycotoxin; the concentration and duration of exposure; as well as age, health and in some cases, even the sex of the exposed person.

 

The combined effects associated with several other factors such as diet, health, immuno-response, age and interactions with other toxins may suggest that it's possible that vitamin deficiency, caloric deprivation, mineral deficiency, prescription drugs, and infectious disease status can all have compounded effects with mycotoxins. In turn, mycotoxins have the potential for both acute and chronic health effects via primary and secondary ingestion, skin contact and inhalation.

 

These toxins can enter the blood stream and lymphatic system; they inhibit protein synthesis, damage macrophage systems, inhibit particle clearance of the lung, and increase sensitivity to bacterial endotoxin which is a cocktail for disaster. 

REFERENCES

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