How cutting-edge strategies can combat mycotoxins

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Most swine producers are familiar with the harm that mycotoxins cause and recognize the need for monitoring and mitigation as part of a complete mycotoxin risk management program. Results of the latest BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey indicate that finished feed and maize (corn) frequently contain harmful mycotoxins at levels that pose a known threat to pig health and performance.

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As Figure 1 shows, deoxynivalenol (DON), fumonisins (FUM) and zearalenone (ZEN) were the most frequently occurring mycotoxins found in samples, followed by aflatoxins (Afla), T-2 toxin and ochratoxin A (OTA). Fumonisins were identified in three out of four corn samples tested, and in half of cases concentrations exceeded known risk thresholds. In finished feed, fumonisins were identified in 60% of samples, and in 30% of those cases the average concentrations exceeded the risk threshold.

Figure 1. Prevalence of mycotoxins in swine feed commodities
Bars indicate percentage of samples testing positive for mycotoxin presence. Dots indicate percentage of samples registering concentrations known to impair animal health or performance.
Source: BIOMIN, 2015

Find one, find many, find trouble

We know from decades of research on mycotoxins that they tend to occur in groups. Th is phenomenon, known as co-exposure, is not only common, but also more dangerous for animals. According to the 2014 BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey, analyzed samples contained on average 30 diff erent mycotoxins and metabolites per sample.

On the field this can cause greater overall harm to animals due to synergistic effects: when mycotoxins occur together the adverse consequences of each mycotoxin (separately, often in a lab) can be amplified.

Protecting pigs

In light of the variety of mycotoxins that can impair swine health and performance, a multi-pronged approach is needed to protect pigs.

In 2015 BIOMIN launches Mycofix® 5.0, an innovative, all-in-one feed additive that uses three modes of action – biotransformation, adsorption and bioprotection – to deliver absolute protection against mycotoxins.

What´s new

Mycofix® 5.0 represents decades of scientific research on mycotoxin deactivation and combines the most cutting-edge mycotoxin mitigation strategies available anywhere,” according to Ursula Hofstetter, Director Competence Center Mycotoxins. This fifth incarnation introduces five new features.

1. Broader spectrum of mycotoxins

Various components act according to one of three complimentary modes of action so that Mycofix® 5.0 acts against the broadest range of mycotoxins found. A number of these components work in ways that are both specific (target a single mycotoxin) and irreversible (cannot be undone) through biotransformation. In addition to components in Mycofix® 5.0 that deactivate trichothecenes, zearalenone, ochratoxin A and aflatoxins, FUMzyme® is a patented purified enzyme that specifically cleaves off the two tricarballylic acid side chains of the fumonisin molecules (see Figure 2). This hydrolysation renders fumonisins non-toxic, protecting pigs from fumonisin-related respiratory problems such as porcine pulmonary edema and liver damage and weakened immune systems.

Figure 2. FUMzyme® detoxifies fumonisin molecules by cleaving the two tricarballylic acid side chains.

2. Proven safety and effectiveness backed by three EU authorizations

Mycofix® 5.0 contains the only three EU authorized feed additives proven to adsorb harmful mycotoxins or to biotransform mycotoxins into nontoxic metabolites (Regulation No 1060/2013, No 1016/2013 and No 1115/2014). Each Mycofix® 5.0 ingredient was evaluated in scientific and practical relevant field trials to assure safety and effectiveness.

Not all authorizations are equal

European Commission Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 established the rules governing EU authorization of additives for use in animal nutrition.
Additives fall into various categories and functional groups. “Substances for reduction of the contamination of feed by mycotoxins” are functional group (m) of the category “technological feed additives” (1).
Other functional groups of technological additives include anticaking agents, binders, preservatives, etc. Only those authorized by the EU in category/functional group “1m” have the legal basis for official claims regarding mycotoxin deactivation and were subject to scrutiny by the European Food Safety Authority with regards to product safety and effectiveness.

3. Enhanced bioprotection

Mycotoxins affect immune cells, damage the liver and also negatively affect the intestinal barrier function. The bioprotection mix in the fifth generation of Mycofix® not only supports liver and immune system but also improves the integrity of the intestinal barrier function. The effectiveness of this scientifically proven blend of carefully selected plant and algae extracts can be seen in results from a TEER (trans-epithelial electrical resistance) test.

This test measures the integrity of cell layers of porcine intestinal epithelial cells. Mycotoxins reduce the electrical resistance in these cells by opening up the cell layer, making them more “leaky” –allowing pathogens to enter the bloodstream more easily. Mycofix® 5.0 reduces leakage, supporting the cell layer and the pig’s intestinal barrier function (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Mycofix® 5.0 supports the intestinal cell layer and immune system.
Source: BIOMIN, 2015

4. Protection against endotoxins

Endotoxins, also known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS), are part of the outer membrane of the cell wall of all Gram-negative bacteria (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas) that can elicit strong immune responses, weakening animals’ immune systems and impairing performance.

Results show that 0.05% of the fifth generation of Mycofix® adsorbs more than 90% of 500 Endotoxin Units per milliliter. What’s more, the interlayer sheet structure of the bentonite contains enough binding sites to achieve a similar level of binding capacity in the presence of 4000 parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin B1 (Figure 4). The bioprotection strategy provides further support.

Figure 4. Adsorption of endotoxins by the 5th generation of Mycofix® even in the presence of 4000 ppb aflatoxin.

5. Brand new, optimized formulation

The fifth generation of Mycofix® is a fully revamped formulation of the Mycofix® product line. It has been optimized in order to boost effectiveness in the field. A trial under field conditions was performed with 60 weaned piglets receiving a diet naturally contaminated with mycotoxins over 56 days (Table 1). At the end of the trial, piglets supplied with Mycofix® Plus had a final weight of 32.3 kg versus 30.6 kg for the control group (Figure 5). An economic calculation based on the weight difference between the two groups clearly showed the overall benefit of the optimized Mycofix® with an ROI of 7.42 based on feed and piglet live weight prices based on average European price for June 2015.

Table 1. Trial set-up

Figure 5. Final average weight per piglet at day 56.
Note: a,b indicate significant difference (p<0.05)
Source: BIOMIN, 2015


The risks that mycotoxins pose to swine are well-known and represent significant economic losses to producers. Mycofix® 5.0 represents a genuine innovation in the combat against mycotoxins in five ways. First, it acts against a broader range of toxins. Second, it contains the only three EU authorized feed additives proven to deactivate mycotoxins. Third, it offers enhanced bioprotection. Fourth, it provides endotoxin protection. Finally, field trial results demonstrate its effectiveness and ability to generate meaningful return on investment.

Mycofix® - For the most complete mycotoxin risk management