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Mycotoxins in feeds for ruminants ; fate and effects on animals

INRA Prod. Anim., 15(1), 3-16.


1 INRA, Unité de Recherches sur les Herbivores, Theix, 63122 St Genès Champanelle

2 Alltech-France, 2-4 avenue du 6 juin 1944, 95190 Goussainville


Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by moulds belonging chiefly to the Aspergillus, Penicilliumand Fusarium genera. They are found on a large variety of food and feeds before, during and after harvest. Because of their individual and synergetic toxicity, the diversity of mycotoxins is risky for consumers of contaminated food. The metabolism of mycotoxins is complex in ruminants. It includes several pathways of bio-activation and detoxification which are controlled by the action of enzymes from the digestive microbial ecosystem and from the host. Part of the toxins or their metabolites can be transferred to the biological tissues. Most of them are eliminated in the urine, faeces and milk. Differences in sensitivity to the toxins have been observed for different animal species. For ruminants, toxicity generally appears through minor chronic troubles and rarely leads to death. A decrease in feed intake and the associated performances is generally observed. A possible presence of residues in edible animal products (milk, meat, offal) has to be considered.

Food safety is associated to a severe control of fungal contamination of plants through the techniques of culture, harvest, preservation, by elimination of contaminated feeds, and by the decrease of toxin bio-availability in the digestive tract by means of binders or adsorbents.

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