Special Issue "Improved and Innovative Actions for Mycotoxin Management in the Food and Feed Chain"

A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651). This special issue belongs to the section "Mycotoxins".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Federica Cheli
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety “Carlo Cantoni” - Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
Coordinating Research Centres (CRC) – Innovation for well-being and Environment (I-WE) - Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
Interests: animal nutrition; mycotoxins; feed; cell-based bioassay
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Mycotoxins are one of the most relevant threats to human and animal health, and in most regions there is still a high risk of mycotoxin contamination. The globalization of the trade in agricultural commodities and the lack of legislative harmonization have contributed significantly to the discussion about the awareness of mycotoxins entering the feed and food supply chain.

Mycotoxins are difficult to eliminate, and the challenge is to minimize their effects. There is a great deal of information available on how to manage and mitigate them, but no silver bullet is available to tackle mycotoxin threats. The mycotoxin problem demands an integrated approach using innovative and improved pre- and post-harvest strategic actions that address the entire food and feed chain: from field to industries, traders, national storage systems, regulators, and relevant agencies.

Improved and innovative actions for mycotoxin management in the food and feed chain are needed in order to answer to several open questions: what happens in the plant when a fungus (and toxin) is formed? Are genetic improvements to crops and biotechnology useful tools for reducing mycotoxin contamination in crops? What happens in storage? What happens during food and feed processing? What is the effect of climate change? Mycotoxins never come alone; can the co-occurrence of mycotoxins affect both the level of mycotoxin production and the toxicity of the contaminated material? What are the best ways to deal with “emerging mycotoxins” or “modified mycotoxins”? Finally, we need to develop quicker and on-site sampling and analytical methods.

The aim of this Issue is to provide an update on the improved and innovative actions for mycotoxin management in the food and feed chain. Original research articles and literature reviews concerning the topic of the Issue are welcome, including occurrence studies as well as economic and commodity trade analyses.

Prof. Federica Cheli
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Toxins is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mycotoxins
  • occurrence
  • prevention
  • mycotoxins detoxification
  • biotechnology
  • management
  • analysis and sampling
  • exposure and risk assessment
  • climate change
  • commodity trade
  • legislation

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Knowledge and Behavioral Habits to Reduce Mycotoxin Dietary Exposure at Household Level in a Cohort of German University Students
Toxins 2021, 13(11), 760; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13110760 (registering DOI) - 26 Oct 2021
Viewed by 272
Abstract
Mycotoxins pose a health concern for humans. Therefore, strategies at pre- and post-harvest and maximum levels for food have been implemented, aimed to minimize the risk of dietary exposure. Yet, consumers’ dietary habits and life style play a substantial role in overall exposure. [...] Read more.
Mycotoxins pose a health concern for humans. Therefore, strategies at pre- and post-harvest and maximum levels for food have been implemented, aimed to minimize the risk of dietary exposure. Yet, consumers’ dietary habits and life style play a substantial role in overall exposure. The aim of this study was to investigate knowledge of mycotoxins and accordance to behavioral practices or habits that may affect the risk of mycotoxin dietary exposure at the household level or when food commodities are obtained from non-regulated trade markets. For this purpose, an online survey was applied to a university student cohort (n = 186). The survey consisted of 23 questions grouped in five categories: Socio-demographic and income data, general life style and habits, knowledge about mycotoxins, compliance with the “17 golden rules to prevent mycotoxin contamination” of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), and measures towards reducing health risks. We paid particular attention to knowledge and compliance of a group acquiring food items in markets outside regulation and surveillance, namely, adherents of food movements such as food sharing or dumpster diving. The results of our study indicate a generally rather low level of knowledge about mycotoxins in the investigated cohort, as well as a weak perception of their associated risks compared to similar studies; around half of the cohort was unfamiliar with the term “mycotoxin” and the health risks of mycotoxins were considered comparable to those of pesticides, heavy metals, microplastics and food additives. We observed, in general, a relatively high degree of compliance with the proposed golden rules. The rules with the highest compliance related to deteriorated foods with visible signs of fungal infestation, probably because these are already considered as food waste. Rules that were less followed included those that require a specific knowledge of food storage and early fungal contamination stages, namely preventive measures related to storage of bread. Adherents of food movements did not differ significantly with the control group in terms of knowledge, risk perception and compliance with the 17 golden rules. This may be due to the homogeneity of the cohort in terms of demography, age and educational level. However, significant low compliance in the food movements group was observed with the rules “Buy fruit and vegetables that are as intact as possible, i.e., without injuries and bruises” and “Rotten fruit should neither be eaten nor further processed into compote or jam”, possibly because of ideological convictions around reducing food waste. In conclusion, mycotoxin prevention strategies should not end at the retail level; in particular, clarification and information regarding health risk from mycotoxins are suggested in order to reduce the risk of exposure in private households or in informal trade markets. The results of this study should, however, be interpreted with caution due to the specific characteristics of the cohort in terms of age and educational level and the disparity in size between the control and the food movement group. This study is a starting point for evaluating and understanding the consumer perspective on mycotoxins. Full article
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Article
Phytobiotics with Adsorbent to Mitigate Toxicity of Multiple Mycotoxins on Health and Growth of Pigs
Toxins 2021, 13(7), 442; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13070442 - 26 Jun 2021
Viewed by 705
Abstract
Phytobiotics with a mycotoxin adsorbent were used to mitigate negative effects of multiple mycotoxins in diets fed to pigs. In experiment 1, 120 pigs (11.6 kg body weight; BW) were assigned to five treatments (three pigs/pen) and fed for 28 days. Treatments were [...] Read more.
Phytobiotics with a mycotoxin adsorbent were used to mitigate negative effects of multiple mycotoxins in diets fed to pigs. In experiment 1, 120 pigs (11.6 kg body weight; BW) were assigned to five treatments (three pigs/pen) and fed for 28 days. Treatments were CON (control), MTD (CON + 2.5 mg/kg of deoxynivalenol), DP (MTD + phytobiotics at 0.1%), and DPA1 and DPA2 (MTD + phytobiotics and adsorbent at 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively). In experiment 2, 96 pigs (28.5 kg BW) were assigned to four treatments (three pigs/pen) and fed for 26 days. Treatments were CON, MTAF (CON + 0.19 mg/kg of aflatoxin and 8 mg/kg of fumonisins), AFP (MTAF + phytobiotics at 0.1%), and AFPA (MTAF + phytobiotics and adsorbent at 0.1%). Growth performance was measured weekly, and blood was sampled at the end of study to measure hepatic function and inflammatory status (TNF-α). Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure. In experiment 1, pigs fed MTD, DP, DPA1, and DPA2 had smaller (p < 0.05) BW than CON. Pigs fed DPA2 had greater (p < 0.05) BW than MTD. Pigs fed DP and DPA2 tended to have lower (p < 0.1) serum total protein than CON. Pigs fed MTD and DPA2 tended to have higher (p < 0.1) alanine aminotransferase than CON. Similarly, pigs fed MTD, DP, and DPA2 tended to have higher (p < 0.1) urea nitrogen/creatinine than CON. In experiment 2, pigs fed MTAF, AFP, and AFPA had smaller (p < 0.05) BW than CON. Pigs fed MTAF, AFP, and AFPA had smaller (p < 0.05) ADFI than CON. Pigs fed AFPA had higher (p < 0.05) aspartate aminotransferase than CON and MTAF. Pigs fed AFP and AFPA had higher (p < 0.05) alanine aminotransferase than CON. Pigs fed MTAF, AFP, and AFPA had lower (p < 0.05) urea nitrogen/creatinine than CON. Pigs fed AFPA had higher (p < 0.05) TNF-α than CON and MTAF. In conclusion, feeding an additional 2.5 mg/kg of deoxynivalenol or 0.19 mg/kg of aflatoxin with 8 mg/kg of fumonisins reduced the growth of pigs. Deoxynivalenol compromised the hepatic function of pigs. Phytobiotics with adsorbent could partly overcome the detrimental effects of mycotoxins. Full article
Article
Contamination by Aflatoxins B/G in Food and Commodities Imported in Southern Italy from 2017 to 2020: A Risk-Based Evaluation
Toxins 2021, 13(6), 368; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13060368 - 22 May 2021
Viewed by 915
Abstract
This study reports the results of aflatoxins B/G monitoring in food of vegetal origin, imported in Southern Italy from extra-European Union countries. From 2017 to 2020, we analyzed 1675 samples using an accredited HPLC method with fluorescence detection. We found out 295 samples [...] Read more.
This study reports the results of aflatoxins B/G monitoring in food of vegetal origin, imported in Southern Italy from extra-European Union countries. From 2017 to 2020, we analyzed 1675 samples using an accredited HPLC method with fluorescence detection. We found out 295 samples (17.6%) were contaminated by aflatoxin B1, 204 by aflatoxins B/G (12.2%), while 75 (4.5%) resulted non-compliant to maximum limits set by the European Union law. Most of the batches tested were unprocessed food; the distribution of contamination levels, incidence of non-compliant samples, inference for different kinds of food are reported. The study focuses on the food more susceptible to contamination by aflatoxins; nuts are the food more controlled, showing the higher number of non-compliant samples. Our study confirms that pistachio nuts, hazelnuts and almonds are the major sources of exposure for consumers. Still, other products, such as chili pepper and Brazil nuts, need to get more information about their contamination levels. The study’s findings are discussed in the perspective of the last opinion by EFSA about chronic exposure to aflatoxins. A case study to evaluate not compliance of a composed food to the European Union law is reported. Full article
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Article
In Vitro Mechanism Assessment of Zearalenone Removal by Plant-Derived Lactobacillus plantarum BCC 47723
Toxins 2021, 13(4), 286; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13040286 - 19 Apr 2021
Viewed by 719
Abstract
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a harmful secondary fungal metabolite, produced primarily by plant pathogenic fungi mostly belonging to the genus Fusarium. It is involved in reproductive disorders in animals since its structure is similar to the estrogen hormone. This induces precocious pubertal changes, [...] Read more.
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a harmful secondary fungal metabolite, produced primarily by plant pathogenic fungi mostly belonging to the genus Fusarium. It is involved in reproductive disorders in animals since its structure is similar to the estrogen hormone. This induces precocious pubertal changes, fertility problems, and hyper estrogenic disorders. The main objectives of this study were to evaluate the ZEA removal capacity of plant-derived lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and to investigate the possible components and mechanisms involved in the removal of ZEA by physically and chemically treated plant-derived LAB. The bacterial cells were characterized using scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and the analysis of zeta potential, and hydrophobic index. Results revealed that 17 out of 33 plant-derived LAB exhibited ZEA removal from liquid medium. The percentage of removal ranged from 0.5–23% and Lactobacillus plantarum BCC 47723, isolated from wild spider flower pickle (Pag-sian-dorng), exhibited the highest removal. The alteration of proteins on L. plantarum BCC 47723 structure by Sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) treatment was positively affected on ZEA removal, whereas that of lipids on ZEA removal was negatively observed. Heat treatment influenced the higher ZEA adsorption. SEM images showed that the morphologies of modified bacterial cells were distinctly deformed and damaged when compared with untreated control. FTIR analysis indicated that the original functional groups, which included amide (C=O, C-N), carboxyl (C=O, C-O, O-H), methylene (C=C), and alcohol (O-H) groups, were not changed after ZEA adsorption. The zeta potential indicated that electrostatic interaction was not involved in the ZEA removal, while hydrophobicity was the main force to interact with ZEA. These findings can conclude that adsorption by hydrophobicity is the main mechanism for ZEA removal of plant-derived L. plantarum BCC 47723. The alteration of bacterial cell structure by heat treatment enhanced the efficiency of L. plantarum BCC 47723 for ZEA reduction. Its activity can be protected by the freeze-drying technique. Hence, plant-derived L. plantarum BCC 47723 can be considered as an organic adsorbent for ZEA reduction in food and feedstuff. Full article
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Article
Co-Occurrence of Regulated and Emerging Mycotoxins in Corn Silage: Relationships with Fermentation Quality and Bacterial Communities
Toxins 2021, 13(3), 232; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13030232 - 23 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1139
Abstract
Sixty-four corn silages were characterized for chemicals, bacterial community, and concentrations of several fungal metabolites. Silages were grouped in five clusters, based on detected mycotoxins, and they were characterized for being contaminated by (1) low levels of Aspergillus- and Penicillium-mycotoxins; (2) [...] Read more.
Sixty-four corn silages were characterized for chemicals, bacterial community, and concentrations of several fungal metabolites. Silages were grouped in five clusters, based on detected mycotoxins, and they were characterized for being contaminated by (1) low levels of Aspergillus- and Penicillium-mycotoxins; (2) low levels of fumonisins and other Fusarium-mycotoxins; (3) high levels of Aspergillus-mycotoxins; (4) high levels of non-regulated Fusarium-mycotoxins; (5) high levels of fumonisins and their metabolites. Altersetin was detected in clusters 1, 3, and 5. Rugulusovin or brevianamide F were detected in several samples, with the highest concentration in cluster 3. Emodin was detected in more than 50.0% of samples of clusters 1, 3 and 5, respectively. Kojic acid occurred mainly in clusters 1 and 2 at very low concentrations. Regarding Fusarium mycotoxins, high occurrences were observed for FB3, FB4, FA1, whereas the average concentrations of FB6 and FA2 were lower than 12.4 µg/kg dry matter. Emerging Fusarium-produced mycotoxins, such as siccanol, moniliformin, equisetin, epiequisetin and bikaverin were detected in the majority of analyzed corn silages. Pestalotin, oxaline, phenopirrozin and questiomycin A were detected at high incidences. Concluding, this work highlighted that corn silages could be contaminated by a high number of regulated and emerging mycotoxins. Full article
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Review

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Review
Integrated Mycotoxin Management System in the Feed Supply Chain: Innovative Approaches
Toxins 2021, 13(8), 572; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13080572 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 781
Abstract
Exposure to mycotoxins is a worldwide concern as their occurrence is unavoidable and varies among geographical regions. Mycotoxins can affect the performance and quality of livestock production and act as carriers putting human health at risk. Feed can be contaminated by various fungal [...] Read more.
Exposure to mycotoxins is a worldwide concern as their occurrence is unavoidable and varies among geographical regions. Mycotoxins can affect the performance and quality of livestock production and act as carriers putting human health at risk. Feed can be contaminated by various fungal species, and mycotoxins co-occurrence, and modified and emerging mycotoxins are at the centre of modern mycotoxin research. Preventing mould and mycotoxin contamination is almost impossible; it is necessary for producers to implement a comprehensive mycotoxin management program to moderate these risks along the animal feed supply chain in an HACCP perspective. The objective of this paper is to suggest an innovative integrated system for handling mycotoxins in the feed chain, with an emphasis on novel strategies for mycotoxin control. Specific and selected technologies, such as nanotechnologies, and management protocols are reported as promising and sustainable options for implementing mycotoxins control, prevention, and management. Further research should be concentrated on methods to determine multi-contaminated samples, and emerging and modified mycotoxins. Full article
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Review
Mycotoxin Occurrence, Toxicity, and Detoxifying Agents in Pig Production with an Emphasis on Deoxynivalenol
Toxins 2021, 13(2), 171; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020171 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1100
Abstract
This review aimed to investigate the occurrence of mycotoxins, their toxic effects, and the detoxifying agents discussed in scientific publications that are related to pig production. Mycotoxins that are of major interest are aflatoxins and Fusarium toxins, such as deoxynivalenol and fumonisins, because [...] Read more.
This review aimed to investigate the occurrence of mycotoxins, their toxic effects, and the detoxifying agents discussed in scientific publications that are related to pig production. Mycotoxins that are of major interest are aflatoxins and Fusarium toxins, such as deoxynivalenol and fumonisins, because of their elevated frequency at a global scale and high occurrence in corn, which is the main feedstuff in pig diets. The toxic effects of aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, and fumonisins include immune modulation, disruption of intestinal barrier function, and cytotoxicity leading to cell death, which all result in impaired pig performance. Feed additives, such as mycotoxin-detoxifying agents, that are currently available often combine organic and inorganic sources to enhance their adsorbability, immune stimulation, or ability to render mycotoxins less toxic. In summary, mycotoxins present challenges to pig production globally because of their increasing occurrences in recent years and their toxic effects impairing the health and growth of pigs. Effective mycotoxin-detoxifying agents must be used to boost pig health and performance and to improve the sustainable use of crops. Full article
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