Cereal grains are plant produced
seeds, fit for human consumption belonging to the botanological family Gramineae. Cereals are the main source
of basic nutritional need for almost the entire world population. The EU is one
of the world’s top cereal producer and trader. Production of cereals take up to
25% of the total crop production value and 1/8 of the total agricultural value (Stanciu & al, 2015).
From all the cereals cultivated in
Europe, wheat takes by far the first place, as it makes up almost half of the
The fact that can be used in a variety of ways
and are the main ingredients of numerous products, makes the mycotoxin contamination
issue even more ominent. (Milani & Maleki, 2014)
The term mycotoxin derives from the
greek words ??????? (myco)
and ?????? (toxin)
It is to be noted that mycotoxins play
no role in the growth or reproduction of the mycus. (Stanciu & al, 2015)
Mycotoxins groups are toxigenically
and chemically heterogenous, meaning that there is a great variance of their
chemical structure and roperties as well as the toxicity of each group
differentiates. Besides the classification according to mycotoxin producing fungal
family; Fusarium, Aspergillus and
Penicillium (among else), regarding their chemical structure and biological
origin mycotoxins are classified also as
cuclopeptides, polycetoacids, terpenes and nitrogenous metabolites (Ferrante, S, & G.O., 2012)
The maximum levels set by the
European Commission are based on risk assessment and toxicological assessment,
using exposure data. In, principle raw
materials, are tolerated to maintain a higher number of mycotoxins as upon
processing any other ingredient additions will create dilute effect, thus
decreasing the overall mycotoxin concentration in the final product. Imperative
conditions are of course that the additional ingredients will be contamination –
free and the original commodity is not destined for human consumption without
some level of suitable processing which allows the decrease of mycotoxin
concentration (Karlovsky & al, 2016).
According to FAO a quarter of the
world’s cereal production is contaminated with mycotoxins. However, estimations
are rising the percentage up to 50% due to limited data from emerging
mycotoxins (Stanciu & al, 2015).
EFSA and FAO mark a number of
mycotoxins as the most troublesome regarding food and feed production,
consumption and trade. These are aflatoxins, fumonisins, DON, NIV, ZEA and T-2
/ HT-2 toxins
Exposure routes includes oral,
dermal and the respiratiory pathways.
prevalence – baseline
Food processing can decrease even
further the mycotoxin presence in food and feed materials , by physical sorting
and / or chemical and / or enzymatic degradation into less toxin metabolites.
In principle the adverse effects of
contaminated food can be moderated via
of the initial, pre-harvest contamination
of contaminated materials from food matrix post-harvest
Monte – Carlo
From the approximately 300-400
known toxins only a small percentage are under surveillance. The most important
and subsequently strictly monitored are: aflatoxins, zearalenone (ZEA),
deoxynivalenol (DON), fumonisins and Ochratoxin A (OTA) (Schatzymay & Streit, 2013) ; (Binder,2007)
Mycotoxins are secondary fungal
metabolites mainly but not exclusively belonging to the genera Aspergillus,
Penicillium and Fusarium.
When ingested, inhaled or absorbed
through the skin cause lowered performance, sickness or death in humans or
animals including birds (Pitt.,1996)
Despite all the precaution
measures, high levels of mycotoxin concentrations can be a result of unusual
and fluctuating weather conditions. This points out the need for effective
measures of detoxification. Absorption and biotransformation………… (Schatzymay & Streit, 2013). Biotransformation
is the microbial degradation of mycotoxins into non or less toxin equivalent
structures. The biotransformation process uses either a microorganism or an
enzyme. However, this process has to be completed in short time, as the time
for gastrointestinal detoxification is limited (Schatzmayr et al., 2006a)
Particular damage can be done by
Fusarium genera on cereal crops
mycotoxins and health complications
mycotoxins and animal productivity
The main issue regarding mycotoxin contamination is not the acute
effects but rather long term reduced productivity. a prolonged period of
mycotoxin uptake can lead to a variety of metabolic implications leading to
reduced animal performance. Such implications are shown on table X
The most alarming issue regarding
mycotoxins are that acute exposure to high levels of toxins is rather rare. On
the contrary, long term chronic exposure is far more troublesome.
Aflatoxins are toxins produced by Aspergillus
genera. It affectd mainly maize (among else such as cotton seeds and peanuts).
The contamination can occure pre – harvest as well as post – hatvest. Poor
storage conditions play a major role in aflatoxin infections. In detail,
temperatures above 25 ?C and high humidity are ideal for aflatoxin appearance.
Moreover, long stress periods, such as extended droughts and a temperature
above 30 ?C.
In case of a serious infection there is loss of enzymic action, immune
suppression and cancer induction in the liver. (Redman & Noleppa, 2017). Aflatoxins are also
responsible for decreased growth rate and feeding
Aflatoxins reduce performance, cause hepatotoxicity, coagulopathy and increased
susceptibility to internal bruising during handling. Poultry is especially
affected with swine being affected less and cattle and sheep the least. Young
animals are more susceptible than older animals. Biomarkers used to detect mycotoxin
infection include Aflatoxin – albumin adducts in serum and DNA adducts in
urine. Aflatoxin M1 is the indicator in milk producing animals as alfatoxins G1
and B1 are biotransformed in the stomach of animals. (Pitt et al,
The B1 aflatoxin (AF B1) is
considered the most potent and harmful mycotoxin and is classified as
scientifically proven human carcinogen in the IARC group (Group 1). This
classification is based on “statistically significantly increased risks of
hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in individuals exposed to aflatoxins as measured
by aflatoxin – specific biomarkers” (IARC monographs).
Aflatoxins are one of the
most important mycotoxin groups both from health and economic perspective. They
are mainly produced by A. flavus and A. parasiticus. There are four main
aflatoxins: B1, B2, G1 and G2. From these four toxins, AF-B1 is the most toxic
and mostly orruring and is considered as the most potent naturally occurring
carcinogen, being classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International
Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). IARC.
Some Naturally Occurring Substances: Food Items and Constituents, Heterocyclic
Aromatic Amines and Mycotoxins—Fumonisin B1. IARC Monogr. Eval. Carcinog.
1993, 56, 245–395. Of great importance is the fact
that lactating animals biotransorm AFB1 from feed intake to a monohydroxylated
derivative AFM1, which is classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans, IARC
are responsible for acute mycotoxicosis in a variety of species, in particular
poisoning outbreaks in poultry. Long term uptake can lead to decreased animal
weight, reduced egg production, decreased immunity and subsequently increased
succeptibility to infectious diseases (Pitt et al, 2012).
aflatoxins are regarded as inducing cancer in the liver in a variety of species
The most importsnt Aspergillus
species are A. flavus and A. parasiticus which are prevalent in warmer climates
and produce aflatoxins in maize, among other commodities (groundnuts, tree
nuts). The main ochratoxin A prioducing species are A. carbonarius and A.
ochraceus . From the genre Penicillium the main OTA producing species is
Penocillium verrucosum, which grows best in cool tempareate climates where it
contaminates small grains. F. verticilloides is also prevalent in maize where
it produces fuminisins. The mycotoxin production is even higher in case of a
drought stress or extensive insect damage to the grain. (Pitt et al, 2012)
Trichothecenes Group ( Deoxynivalenol – DON, T-2,
The trichothecenes group is a group
of mycotoxins produced by species of the Fusarium genre. They infect mainly
small grain cereals, as maize, wheat and barley. Nonetheless they also affect
other commodities such as figs and/or vegetables. The most frequently observed and
potent toxin from the trichothecens group is Deoxynivalenol (DON).
Deoxynivalenol production occurs in warm and humid conditions …………………. (Redman &
The T-2 is another toxin from this
group, being the second most potent after DON. T-2 can be the cause of
cytotoxicity and haemorrhage. Skin tissue necrosis is also a symptom of T-2
Fumonisins affect the liver in all species as
well as the kidneys in some animals. On horses can lead to equine
leukoencephalomalacia (ELEM) and porcine pulmonary oedema on swines. Horses and
rabbits are particularly affected, followed by pigs and then poultry. Animals
raised for meat production are affected less than animals for breeding
purposes. Fumonisin B1 can be detected in urine and faeces.
Fumonisins are a group of mycotoxins
produced by the Fusarium genre. Maize and other grains (rice, sorghum) are
affected too. They have been accused of causing hepatotoxicity and
carcinogenicity. Moreover, other symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, oesophagus
damage as well as kidney damage and
disorters (Redman & Noleppa, 2017).
Zearalenone is a fungal metabolite,
produced by the Fusarium genre. It infects maize, wheat and other small grains.
The ideal conditions for ZEA production includes high humidity levels and a
fluctuation between high and low temperatures (7-21oC). Zearalenone is a
hormone disruptor, meaning it bears high resemblance with estrogen receptors,
as it poses as a weak estrogen. As a result it has a significant effect on
reproductive functions, especially in non polygastric animals, such as humans
or pigs. The symptoms include infertility, dispruption of the ovaries, oedema
in the vulvar area as well as vaginal
prolapse and mammary hypertrophy
This mycotoxin group is produced by
the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium. They are particularly favored in
relatively high temperatures (24-30oC), typical of the Southern parts of
Europe. They have a wide variety of infecting commodities. Except wheat and
corn, they can contaminate barley, oats as well as other than cereal grains as
coffee, beer and wine. They damage the kidneys
and blood serum and cause protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism disruptions. Clinical symptoms include diarrhea,
vomiting, dehydration, fatigue, decreased body weight, immune suppression and hemorrhage.
In addition they are proven human carcinogens
H2 HT2 limits
Fusarium graminearum is one of the
major zearalenone producing species, affecting maize wheat and barley and
producing the toxin pre harvest.
Fumonisins have been reported as
promoting kidney tumors in lab rats (Pinotti, et al, 2016)
The mycotoxins with the greatest
impact both for human health and from economic perspective are aflatoxins (AF),
zearalenone (ZEA), deoxynivalenol (DON), fumonisins and Ochratoxin A (OTA)
2007. Managing the risk of mycotoxins in modern feed production. Animal Feed
Science and Technology 133: 149-166.
M.F. The African Fusarium/maize disease. Mycotoxin Res. 2009, 25,
implication with mycotoxin production is that the presence of the toxin
producing fungi is not aleways a synonyme of mycotoxin contamination and vice
versa; in the absence of toxin producing fungi there can be contamination with
Furthermore, mycotoxins contaminate
commodities that are consumed by the majority of people worldwide and at the
same time by some of the poorest and most vulnerable populations; such as
cereal grains. Mycotoxins have a wide range of adverse health effects both on
humans and animals alike.
Aspergillus and Penicikllium genera
are either commensals, meaning they are naturally present on crops with no
negative implications, or they can become pathogenous, contaminating crops
after harvest and in storage conditions. On the contrary, Fusasrium species
affect crops before harvest.
The main target organ of OTA is the
kidneys, causing oedema and renal dysfunction. Pigs are the most reported as
affected but not exclusively as horses can be affected as well. Ochratoxin
caused mycotoxicosis in poultry can lead to feed refusal and increased
mortality rate (Pitt et al, 2012).
Deoxynivalenol can cause reportedly
feed refusal in cattle, poultry and swine, with the latter being particularly
The class of trichothecenes (T2,
HT2, DON and NIV) as well ZEA and fumonisins. Fusarium species are one of the
most prevalent toxin producing fungi in the North temperate regions of Europe,
Asia and Americas.
Fusarium toxins are framed for the
production of toxins responsible for an extended range of adverse health effects
on experimental animals as well as animals of economic significance and also in
Deoxynivalenol is a Fusarium genus,
mycotoxin producing fungi, naturally found in abundance in cereal crops,
including among else maize and wheat and their products thereof (bread, beer).
It belongs to the trichothecenes group. In contaminated commodities, mainly
Deoxynivalenol is a very heat
resistant chemical compound, stable through storage, milling as well as
processing, cooking (Rotter et al.,1996)
Effects of cereal processing
According to literature, the
milling process results in mycotoxin reduction due to fractioning of the
compounds during milling for commodities destined for human consumption
however, it concentrates mycotoxins level for commodities used as feed. The
level of contamination regarding feed material is bind with inputs such as the
type of mycotoxin, the extend and magnitude of fungal infection and the overall
technology and process used (Pinotti, et al, 2016).
Despite the fact that in general
mycotoxin concentrations are below the regulatory EU limits, thus ensuring
trade and consumption, the synergistic action of co-occurred mycotoxins may
still pose adverse effects to human and animals. (Pinotti et al., 2016)
Given the paramount influence of
the weather conditions to the growth of mycotoxin producing fungi, and since
Europe has a variety of climate conditions; from sub-tropical on the South to
oceanic on the West and sub-artic in the North. Aflatoxin kevels are said to
remain low except after a particularly hot and dry season, with that being the
case mostly in the South (Schatzymay & Streit, 2013)
The major market implication regarding mycotoxin contamination is
the decrease in quality and subsequently value of contaminated commidities. any
volume of contaminated ceral bears a decrsease in market price, due to
exceeding the reguralory limits for human consumtpion and thus traded as feed.
Moreover a batch or lot can be rejected entirely due to exceeding the limits,
or it has to be treated in order to decontaminated to a certain acceptable
degree. Such actions however put an additional economic burdain to the
respective shareholders (farmers, processors, consumers. goverment) (Pitt et al, 2012)
Materials and Methods
the prevalence of mycotoxins in food and feed material, the data were selected
throught literature review, based on the extend of the survey (long term
analysis were more favourable than short term with few samples
report is focus mainly on unprocessed cereal grains, right after harvesting
before any initial processing step. Due to the nature of the commodities
involved, cereal grains, there are innumerable ways of using them as first
material, and consequently ways of processing and detoxification. In order to
Cost effectiveness Analysis
objective of this report is to assess the impact of an increased level of
mycotoxin control and prevention measures on cereal grains (soft wheat, durum
wheat and maize). The effects will be evaluated based on their reduction of
mycotoxin presence on each grain and on each of the three selected European
decontamination should be irreversible, modified forms of mycotoxins should be
affected together with parent compounds, the products should be nontoxic, and
the food should retain its nutritional value and remain edible (Milani and
Maleki, 2014). All substances and microorganisms used in the study must be
approved for human consumption according to Codex Alimentarius.
collection will be mainly done through literature review and database search
(Eurostat) and will include data about production volumes, cultivation area,
production yield and the extent of mycotoxin contamination in 3 major cereal
products. Data will also be collected
regarding the type of fungus that mostly affect each cereal and their produced
mycotoxins thereof. In addition, data about the preventive and control measures
of mycotoxin contamination will be gathered.
was collected based on the division of Europe in three regions. For the data
search, Google Scholar was used, using the following keywords: “annual cereal
production EU data”, “occurrence mycotoxins cereals”, “prevalence mycotoxins
cereals”, “control measures cereal mycotoxins”.
Data about gross
production, yield and production area for EU-28 Member States were obtained
from Eurostat from 1993 to 2015. Data for 2016 were an estimation and for 2017
forecasted (see spreadsheet)
Multiplying the occurrence
percentage and the range of the infection (?g/kg) with the production volumes the crop losses due to mycotoxin
contamination could be estimated. In combination with the currently applied
measures for mycototxin control, a baseline on the European level was
established. After the establishment of the current situation in Europe
relative to the losses due to contamination,, the currently applied measures
were examined for their efficacy on decreasing mycotoxin presence on cereals.
These measures consist of grain sorting, milling, application of pesticides,
sieving cleaning, flotation,dehulling and chemical decontamination.
Regarding the novel interventions
they consist of application of atoxigenic Aspergillus strain AF36, novel
biopesticides, suitable for organic farming (see spreadsheet) and improved
vision sorting techniques.
interventions will consist of application of atoxigenic Aspergillus strain
AF36, use of atoxigenic Aspergillus for decreasing the presence of ochratoxin A
(Tsitsigiannis et al., 2012), novel biopesticides, suitable for organic farming
(see spreadsheet) and improved vision sorting techniques.
Data will be analyzed dividing Europe to three
groups depending on the occurrence of each mycotoxin group, as depending on
regional climate conditions. It is strongly cited in literature that seasonal
and local weather conditions play a paramount role in fungal growth and toxin
production (Pinotti et al., 2016). These regions will be: North-West Europe,
Central-Eastern Europe and Southern Europe (Schatzmayr&Streit., 2013) and
each region will be assigned with a specific cereal; Normal wheat for North-West
Europe, Durum wheat for Southern Europe and maize for Central-Eastern Europe as
shown on Figure 1. Based on the selected cereal for each region, the most
relevant mycotoxins were selected. For the North-West Europe and the soft
wheat, Ochratoxin A, DON and Zearalenone were selected. For maize in
Central-East Europe aflatoxins and fumonisins were selected and for hard wheat
in Southern Europe, DON and NIV were selected.