Mycotoxins are harmful substances produced by fungi in various foods and are estimated to affect as much as 25% of the world`s crop each year. Most of these mytocoxins belong to the three genera of fungi: Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium. Although over 300 mytocoxins are known, those of most concern based on their toxicity and occurrence, are aflatoxin, vomitoxin, ochratoxin, zearaleone, fumonisin and T-2 toxin. They are produced in cereal grains as well as forages before, during and after harvest in various environmental conditions. The presence of mycotoxins in feeds may decrease feed intake and affect animal performance. In addition, the possible presence of toxic residues in edible animal product such as milk, meat and eggs may have some detrimental effects on human health. Fungal contamination affects both the organoleptic characteristics and the alimentary value of feeds and entails a risk of toxicosis. The biological effects of mycotoxin depend on the ingested amounts, number of occurring toxins, duration of exposure to mycotoxin and animal sensitivity. Mycotoxins display a diversity of chemical structures, accounting for their different biological effects. Depending on their precise nature, these toxins may be carcinogenic, teratogenic, mutagenic, immunosuppressive, tremor genic, hemorrhagic, hepatotoxic, nephrotoxic and neurotoxic. Controlling mould growth and mycotoxin production is very important to the feed manufacturer and livestock producer. Control of mould growth in feeds can be accomplished by keeping moisture low, feed fresh, equipment clean and using mould inhibitors. In addition, control of mycotoxins in animal diets would reduce the likelihood that mycotoxin residues would appear in animal products destined for human consumption.
How to cite this article
K.E. Akande, M.M. Abubakar, T.A. Adegbola and S.E. Bogoro, 2006. Nutritional and Health Implications of Mycotoxins in Animal Feeds: A Review. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 5: 398-403.