INTERVIEW: New Frontiers for BIOMIN and for Mycotoxin Management

Containing the only purified enzyme authorized by the EU to biotransform fumonisins, Mycofix® 5.0 has been making waves since its release earlier this year, explains Dr. Christina Schwab, product manager for mycotoxin risk management at BIOMIN. Moreover, with the opening of the Austrian company's first Central American plant in Panama, the year has also been transformative for BIOMIN on a corporate development scale.

[Feedinfo News Service] Can you give us a bit of background for Mycofix® 5.0? Is it the fifth one in a series? What are the main ways in which it differs from earlier incarnations in the product line?

Dr. Christina Schwab (Product Manager Mycotoxin Risk Management, BIOMIN)[Dr. Christina Schwab] The roots of the Mycofix® product line stretch back to 1985. Three decades of research have allowed us to introduce new technologies or ingredients at each iteration with improved mycotoxin-deactivating effectiveness each time. Mycofix® 5.0 represents decades of scientific research and combines the most cutting-edge mycotoxin mitigation strategies available anywhere. The fifth generation represents a profound change in that the product has been completely reformulated and now includes FUMzyme®, the only purified enzyme proven to degrade fumonisins.

Mycofix® 5.0 represents a genuine innovation to provide our customers with absolute protection in five ways. First, it acts against a broader range of toxins than any other product. Second, it contains the only three EU authorized feed additives proven to deactivate mycotoxins. Third, it offers enhanced bioprotection that supports liver, immune system and intestinal barrier function. Fourth, Mycofix® successfully adsorbs harmful endotoxins even in the presence of aflatoxins. Finally, trial results around the world demonstrate its effectiveness and ability to generate meaningful return on investment.

[Feedinfo News Service] Mycofix® 5.0 uses biotransformation to convert a variety of different mycotoxins into non-toxic metabolites. What are the specific enzymes being used? How do they represent an improvement over the existing offer of mycotoxin counter-agents?

[Dr. Christina Schwab] Binders cannot provide a complete solution, because not all mycotoxins can be adsorbed. Biotransformation is the future of mycotoxin risk management. It works by transforming non-adsorbable mycotoxins into harmless substances without any side effects for livestock. A number of components in Mycofix® 5.0 work in ways that are both specific (target a single mycotoxin) and irreversible (cannot be undone). The microorganism Biomin® BBSH 797 produces enzymes to biotransform trichothecenes into harmless metabolites. The yeast strain Biomin® MTV specifically detoxifies zearalenone and ochratoxin A into nontoxic substances. FUMzyme® cleaves off the two tricarballylic acid side chains of the fumonisin molecules. The fifth generation of Mycofix® contains all of these biotransforming agents.

[Feedinfo News Service] The BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey aims to provide a picture of the mycotoxin threats in the wild. What proportion of this year’s mycotoxin environment is made up of mycotoxins that can be broken down by Mycofix® 5.0 (fumonisins, trichothecenes, zearalenone, ochratoxin A)?

[Dr. Christina Schwab] Year to date, a total of 5,332 samples were analyzed within the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey from over 40 different countries around the world. The most common mycotoxins are deoxynivalenol and fumonisins, which were detected in 77% and 62% of all samples at average levels of 1,255 ppb and 942 ppb, respectively. 53% of all tested samples were contaminated with zearalenone at an average concentration of 330 ppb. 88% of all samples contained at least one mycotoxin and over half of all samples were co-contaminated.

The Mycofix® product line is the only product on the market which includes three established strategies with proven protection against important mycotoxins from an agricultural point of view, e.g. aflatoxins, several different trichothecenes, zearalenone, fumonisins, ochratoxin A and ergot alkaloids. Mycofix® therefore reduces the pressure on the animals even if less well-known mycotoxins are present. The carefully selected Biomin® bioprotection mix in Mycofix® helps to overcome negative effects caused by mycotoxins in general by supporting the immune system, gastrointestinal integrity and liver.

[Feedinfo News Service] In 2013, the EU authorized the first BIOMIN products with mycotoxin counteracting properties, notably Mycofix® Secure and Biomin® BBSH 797, followed by FUMzyme® in 2014. How has BIOMIN maintained their leadership in the domain of mycotoxins research?

[Dr. Christina Schwab] Scientific leadership by BIOMIN speaks to the uniqueness and efficacy of Mycofix® 5.0, which contains the only 3 EU authorized substances for the reduction of contamination of feed by mycotoxins.

EU registration is considered as a benchmark for quality by the industry. The stringent EU requirements to directly prove the deactivation of mycotoxins in vivo with scientific biomarkers demands a solid and long-standing commitment to R&D in the service of customers. For BIOMIN, maintaining leadership in mycotoxin research is about making significant investments—not just in monetary terms—but also in people, time and focus.

Overall, the EU authorization is a fair and transparent process for committed companies who will finally see their research efforts acknowledged. Customers are able to make decisions more wisely knowing that they are purchasing quality products.

[Feedinfo News Service] Much has been made of the co-occurrence of mycotoxins in the field. What is the significance of co-occurrence, and what are the implications in terms of mycotoxin management?

[Dr. Christina Schwab] Enormous technological gains have been made with multi-mycotoxin analysis methods, such as Spectrum 380® which detects over 380 mycotoxins and metabolites by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in one go. This detailed view improves our clients’ understanding of the situation in their fields. Recent results show that mycotoxin co-occurrence is more common than previously thought. On average, 30 different metabolites per sample were detected based on 850 samples sourced worldwide in 2015. The maximum number of mycotoxins per sample was 62 and in 95% of samples more than 10 metabolites were found. Consequently, given the diversity of mycotoxins, effective mycotoxin risk management must rely upon the most up-to-date scientific knowledge and multiple modes of action to protect against agriculturally relevant mycotoxins.

[Feedinfo News Service] BIOMIN opened a new Mycofix® plant in Panama earlier this year, which is currently producing more than 3,000 tons of product per year. Is this your first plant in Central America? What made Panama the best choice for a new Mycofix® plant?

[Dr. Christina Schwab] BIOMIN has longstanding customer and distributor relationships throughout Central and South America going back two decades. The Panama plant is a first for BIOMIN in Central America, and represents the further promise of these markets in the coming years. Panama offers a strategic location in terms of global trade, logistics and a choice service hub to serve markets throughout the Western hemisphere. Above-average economic growth in recent years that is forecast to continue, the soon-to-be completed canal expansion and a multicultural business environment all reinforced the value of locating our new plant here.

This interview was first published on