2018 BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey Results

The survey report provides information on occurrence and average contamination levels of the main well known mycotoxins, namely aflatoxins (Afla), zearalenone (ZEN), deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 toxin (T-2), fumonisins (FUM) and ochratoxin A (OTA). Samples have been taken from finished feed as well as raw commodities, which include among others corn, wheat, barley, rice, soybean, corn silage, oats, dried distiller grains (DDGS) and silage. For each region in the world map, an overall risk level is indicated by colour. These risk levels are based on the percentage of samples for which at least one mycotoxin exceeds the risk threshold levels for livestock. The thresholds are defined by BIOMIN and rely on years of practical experience and research. They consider the most sensitive species for each mycotoxin.

Figure 1. Global map of mycotoxin occurrence and risk in different regions.


The risk levels range from moderate risk in Oceania up to extreme in South Asia and China/Taiwan. Following the trend in recent years, FUM was highly prevalent with high average concentrations around many regions of the world. Fumonisins are produced by Fusarium proliferatum and F. verticilloides and are predominantly found in corn products. In 2018, 68% of samples analyzed globally tested positive for fumonisins. As expected, corn was particularly very affected and occurrence was higher in warmer regions. Other Fusarium fungi produce DON, which is the second highly abundant mycotoxin. DON tends to be more common than FUM in more temperate regions but DON can also be an issue in subtropical and tropical conditions.

Mycotoxin contamination varies between the different regions. Alexandro Marchioro, Mycotoxin Risk Management Product Manager at BIOMIN, points out one important factor influencing mycotoxin occurrence: “Climate change results in extreme weather conditions and this is one of the most important factors contributing to changing patterns of mycotoxin occurrence around the world.”

Co-contamination continues to be a hot topic. A full 70% of samples contained two or more mycotoxins. Multiple mycotoxin contamination poses an additional threat to animal production, as certain combinations of mycotoxins are known to have synergistic effects that aggravate the negative consequences for animals. Another problem that should not be underestimated are subclinical effects of mycotoxins on animal health such as reduced productivity or increased disease susceptibility; such effects can be present even with low contamination levels.


In Europe, the most prevalent mycotoxin was DON with 63% of abundance and an average contamination of 601 ppb. The second most prevalent mycotoxin was FUM (57%; 664 ppb), followed by ZEN (56%; 154 ppb). Compared to 2017 an increase in abundance could be seen for FUM (51% up to 57%). In corn, FUM was indeed the most frequently found mycotoxin. T-2 toxin and, even more so, ZEN increased in prevalence from 2017 to 2018.

Regional differences can be observed. In Southern Europe, FUM were the most prevalent mycotoxins (84% abundance; average contamination 1,031 ppb). Contrary to last year, ZEN became extremely abundant in Southern Europe (from 33 to 67%) but with low average concentrations (34 ppb). Occurrence of aflatoxins was highest in Southern Europe (21%) compared to Northern, Eastern and Central Europe. In Eastern and Northern Europe, most crops were contaminated with DON (both 66%). As can often be the case, abundance of T-2 toxin was high in these regions. In Central Europe DON was again the most frequent mycotoxin found (64%).


In Asia, the main risk was due to Afla, followed by FUM and DON. Overall, FUM was the most prevalent mycotoxin (82%), followed by DON. 96% of corn samples in Asia tested positive for FUM with a maximum concentration of 47,485 ppb. Afla was present in 44% of finished feed samples (average 26 ppb; maximum concentration 697 ppb).

Regional differences can be observed in Asia as well. South Asia shows extreme risk. 87% of all samples contained Afla (38 ppb) and FUM was found in 97% of corn samples (maximum concentration 4,962 ppb). Extreme risk is also seen in China and Taiwan. DON was present in 90% of all samples there with a maximum of 53,796 ppb. FUM was the second most abundant mycotoxin. It contaminated 96% of corn and 99% of finished feed samples. DON poses the main risk in East Asia. It occurred in 82% of all samples and reached a maximum concentration of 7,715 ppb. Afla and FUM, followed by DON, threaten South-east Asia. Afla was found in almost 70% of finished feed samples. FUM was the most prevalent mycotoxin and the highest concentration in Asia (123,444 ppb) was observed in this region. In Oceania, DON was the most abundant mycotoxin, particularly in finished feed.

North America

In North America, DON was the most abundant mycotoxin, reaching 67% of the total samples with an average of 735 ppb. We observed a rise in DON contamination in cereals from 65% in 2017 to 86% in 2018 with an average of 1,853 ppb. Fumonisins were present in 70% of corn samples analysed, with a high average of 3,497 ppb.

Another important corn sub-product, DDGS, was especially subjected to DON contamination: prevalence was 98% with an average contamination of 1,420 ppb.

South America

In this region, risk is high with 72% of samples having at least one mycotoxin above the risk threshold. DON was present in 88% of cereal samples and a high average concentration (1,949 ppb) was detected. Further, a maximum concentration of 8,750 ppb was found.

FUM was the most abundant mycotoxin in this region. It contaminated 86% of corn, 100% of DDGS and 89% of finished feed samples. A concentration as high as 72,100 ppb of FUM was found. In Argentina, the average concentration of FUM rose from 2,800 ppb in 2017 to 4,762 ppb in 2018.

In Brazil, the most prevalent mycotoxin was FUM with 73% and an average contamination of 2,144 ppb. The second most prevalent mycotoxin was DON (70%; 1,073 ppb). In corn, FUM was even the most abundant mycotoxin with 86% and an average of 2,605 ppb.

Middle East

In Middle East FUM, ZEN and DON were very prevalent (87%, 71% and 65%, respectively). Average concentrations for these mycotoxins were 1,074ppb (FUM), 48ppb (ZEN) and 316 ppb (DON). All corn samples from Middle East were contaminated with FUM and the average concentration was 3,101 ppb. In addition, finished feed showed high frequency of FUM (97%, average 989 ppb). Afla posed some risk in Egyptian and United Arab Emirates samples.


Most samples included in the survey for the region Africa, derived from South Africa. Therefore, the picture shown in the report represents mainly the situation in South Africa. Here, we detected an almost equal abundance of FUM, DON and ZEN (74%, 72%, 72% respectively) with average concentrations of 422 ppb, 736 ppb and 67 ppb. DON poses the highest risk to animal production in this region. Abundance of DON was 84% in corn (average 741 ppb) and reached a maximum concentration of 12,220 ppb; followed by FUM with 77% (average 640 ppb; maximum 9,373 ppb). In addition, a high contamination rate with FUM and DON could be observed in finished feed (96% and 89%). Interestingly, soybean samples from South Africa contained increased ZEN average concentrations of 343 ppb and a maximum of 4,336 ppb; 29% of samples were contaminated.


The annual BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey constitutes the longest running and most comprehensive survey of its kind and provides valuable data for mycotoxin risk management. The survey results indicate that mycotoxins are a serious concern in agricultural production. Multi-mycotoxin occurrences continue to be a global and regional threat, as they may result in additive or synergistic effects. Therefore, the results underline the necessity of constant mycotoxin monitoring in feedstuffs and a proper mycotoxin risk management.