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Toxin Binder use in Swine

Mitigating mycotoxins in swine feed

Livestock producers are aware of the importance of a mycotoxin risk management program in order to limit the impacts these toxins have on production and performance.   

Toxin binders are a commonly used strategy and are often used extensively as an in feed option for mycotoxin mitigation. 

While toxin binders can play a role, protecting your herd requires additional detoxification strategies such as biotransformation and bioprotection.  

Definition of a toxin binder

In agriculture, a toxin binder or mycotoxin binder refers to feed additives added to monogastric feeds or ruminant rations that are able to bind harmful substances, mostly mycotoxins or endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides), within animals’ gastrointestinal tracts. This is a common method producers and nutritionists use as a prevention strategy when mycotoxins have been detected in feed or feed ingredients or as an intervention when indications of mycotoxicosis are detected on a farm.  

Michele Muccio, Regional Product Manager Mycotoxins at BIOMIN, explains how mycotoxin binders work, how effective they are and how to achieve absolute protection.

How adsorption works 

Binders function by trapping contaminants in a clay or other porous material in a process known as adsorption. The addition of adsorbent (binder) materials to feed is very common for the prevention of mycotoxicosis, especially aflatoxicosis. 

A mycotoxin binder binds to a mycotoxin such as aflatoxin, which has a polar and planar (flat) chemical structure, through adsorption. Picture a sandwich. Aflatoxin is the meat, and the layers of the binding substance are the two slices of bread. 

Once the mycotoxin enters the layers of the binder, the electric force generated by the atoms of both compounds tightens the bond. While a good binder will immobilize aflatoxins and even endotoxins, there are other mycotoxins that cannot be bound due to their structures being more three dimensional than aflatoxins. 

Adsorption of fumonisins are limited and vary from binder to binder, while trichothecenes, such as deoxynivalenol, and zearalenone require other mitigation strategies because adsorption is not effective. 

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

Binder materials

Certain materials are better at binding than others. Examples of binder materials include: 

  • Silicates
  • Clays e.g. bentonite
  • Yeast
  • Charcoal

Evaluating binders

Not all binder materials are of equivalent quality, even within the same type of material.  In an evaluation of 300 commercially available products tested for their adsorption capacity using the European Union Reference Laboratories (EURL) method, only one high-quality bentonite was able to bind more than 90% of 4000 ppb of aflatoxin B1 at a pH of 5. This means that not all binding materials will be able to bind mycotoxins, nor will all bentonites have the same capacity to effectively adsorb high levels of mycotoxins.  

The EURL method is based on a multi-year research project between BIOMIN and the Department of Agrobiotechnology (IFA Tulln), the world leader in research on fungi and mycotoxins. It identified key characteristics required for an effective mycotoxin binder.  

One essential part of choosing a mycotoxin binder is its specificity – which means it binds to mycotoxins while not adsorbing other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Ensuring binders chosen for feed have been evaluated for safety is an important step of selecting this tool for a mycotoxin mitigation program.  

State-of-the-art mycotoxin deactivation

While binders represent the most common, conventional form of mycotoxin control, the limitations on what can be bound has led to newer, more effective methods to mitigate the effects of mycotoxins, such as bioprotection and biotransformation. 


Biotransformation is the future of mycotoxin risk management. This method works by transforming non-adsorbable mycotoxins into harmless substances by altering the physical structure of the mycotoxins without any side effects for livestock. 

BIOMIN has successfully pioneered the development and commercialization of biotransforming agents of various kinds, including: 

  • A microorganism (BIOMIN® BBSH-797) that produces enzymes which detoxifies trichothecenes (Schatzmayr et al. 2006; Hahn et al., 2015)
  • A yeast strain (T. mycotoxinivorans) that neutralizes zearalenone and ochratoxin A (Hartinger and Moll, 2011; Vekiru et al. 2011)
  • A purified enzyme (FUMzyme®) that biotransforms fumonisins into non-toxic metabolites (Heinl et al, 2010; Hartinger and Moll, 2011)

These innovations are available within our mycotoxin risk management solutions. 


Bioprotection relies on a scientifically proven blend of carefully selected plant and algae extracts to boost animals’ liver and immune function in order to help them cope with the negative effects of mycotoxins. 

Mycofix® is not sold in the United States and Canada.