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Mycotoxin Binder Definition and Application in Farm Animals

The basics of binders (adsorbents), their strengths and limitations against various kinds of mycotoxins.

A mycotoxin binder is a substance that is added to animal feed in small quantities in order to trap mycotoxins, preventing them from entering the blood stream where they can cause serious harm to your animals.

Mycotoxin Binder Definition and Application in Farm Animals

Michele Muccio (Product Manager - Competence Center Mycotoxins, BIOMIN) explains how mycotoxin binders work, how effective they are and how to achieve absolute protection.

Application in animal feed

The addition of adsorbent (binder) materials to animal feeds is very common for the prevention of mycotoxicosis, especially aflatoxicosis. 

Toxin binders in poultry feed
Toxin binders in pig feed
Mycotoxin binders in cattle feed
Toxin binders in shrimp and fish feed



Mycotoxin binders are nutritionally inert substances added to animal feed in order to tightly bind and immobilize mycotoxins in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, thus reducing their bioavailability. 

This process is known as adsorption, and it constitutes the most well-known approach to detoxification of mycotoxins. 

Adsorption is a suitable strategy for aflatoxins, ergot alkaloids and ochratoxins, but it is not an efficient method to counteract trichothecenes, fumonisins and zearalenone.

Efficacious adsorption of mycotoxins depends on the polarity and shape of the mycotoxin, and the type of bonds that are formed between the toxin and the adsorbent.

Figure 1. Adsorption efficacy of different mycotoxins.
Figure 1. Adsorption efficacy of different mycotoxins.


Certain materials are better at binding than others. 

Examples of binder materials include:

  • Silicates
  • Clays
  • Yeast
  • Charcoal

Bentonites are highly promising materials for adsorption of aflatoxin B1 (AfB1). Bentonites are clay minerals which result from the decomposition of volcanic ash consisting mainly of the phyllosilicate mineral montmorillonite (smectite). Bentonites have been reported to effectively decrease the inhibitory effects of dietary AfB1

Clay mineral binders alone are not an effective answer to all major mycotoxins. This holds especially true when it comes to counteracting Fusarium mycotoxins since their structures are not suitable for adsorption.

Activated charcoal represents a very unspecific binder, meaning that it also adsorbs nutrients.

How to choose the right product

An effective mycotoxin binder meets five key criteria, namely:

  • High adsorptive capacity
  • Irreversible – not easily undone
  • Specific – only binds mycotoxins
  • Safe
  • Scientifically proven through in vivo biomarker studies

Read The Truth About Mycotoxin Binders

Mycotoxin risk management

A complete mycotoxin mitigation strategy uses adsorption, biotransformation and bioprotection in order to protect farm animals, along with regular testing of feed ingredients. 

Many industry practitioners use a combination of tactics, such as:

  • Mycotoxin detection

  • Application of a multi-strategy mycotoxin deactivator

  • Good quality control

  • Feed management

EU authorization

Mycofix® Secure is a bentonite (dioctahedral montmorillonite) that fulfills the strict requirements on aflatoxin-binding capability according to the European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL). In cooperation with the EURL, BIOMIN developed an analytical method to characterize the AfB1-binding capacity of bentonites, which has now become a crucial part of the authorization process for aflatoxin binders. These efforts spearheaded by BIOMIN have paved the way for legalizing “aflatoxin-binding” as an official claim.

Read EU authorizations for Mycofix® Secure and Biomin® BBSH 797; first-ever products with official anti-mycotoxin claim.

Endotoxin binding

Figure 2. Diagram of a lipopolysaccharide
Figure 2. Diagram of a lipopolysaccharide

Endotoxins, or so-called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are cell wall components of Gram-negative bacteria that cause strong negative effects on the immune-system and inflammation processes and are therefore an underestimated risk in animal production.

During high bacterial challenge periods (killing of bacteria/overwhelming growth) the inflammatory response is increased due to LPS mediation of the receptors. As the animal has to fight the inflammation, a decrease in animal performance can occur. 

Endotoxins can be bound by certain clays due to their chemical structure and polarity that allows them to be accommodated in the layers of the bentonite. As for every good binder, the efficacy should be evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. 

To learn more about the performance of Mycofix® with endotoxins in vivo, read Mycotoxins, endotoxins and their control


Schatzmayr, G., Zehner, F., Taubel, M., Schatzmayr, D., Klimitsch, A., Loibner, A. P. and Binder, E. M. (2006). Microbiologicals for deactivating mycotoxins. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 543-551.

Binder, E. M., Heidler, D., Schatzmayr, G., Thimm, N., Fuchs, E., Schuh, M., Krska, R., and Binder, J. (2001) Microbial detoxification of mycotoxins in animal feed. Sabino, M., Rodriguez-Amaya, D., and Corrêa, B. 10th International IUPAC Symposium on Mycotoxins and Phycotoxins. Mycotoxins and Phycotoxins in Perspective at the Turn of the Millennium , 271-277

Huwig A, Freimund S, Kappeli O, Dutler H (2001) Mycotoxin detoxication of animal feed by different adsorbents. Toxicol. Lett. 122: 179-188