The PPECB Laboratory has extended its scope of Mycotoxin testing to include Fumonisins, Patulin and Deoxynivalenol in its basket of mycotoxin service offerings to the food and feed industries.

Mycotoxins are a large group of toxins produced by moulds and they can be very toxic for animals, plants and humans.   For that reason they are regulated in food and feed globally.

To date scientists have discovered approximately 300 different Mycotoxins and the United Nations has reported that mycotoxins are present in more than 30% of the cereals produced worldwide.

Inadequate or inaccurate sampling techniques are the most common error when analysing for mycotoxins.   Mycotoxins are never evenly or uniformly distributed in stored cereal or feed and are more concentrated in areas with higher humidity and/or with higher oxygen levels.  To ensure that representative samples are sent to its Laboratory for Mycotoxin testing the PPECB has trained its inspectors to properly sample a myriad of matrices according to standard operating procedures on sampling and analysis of grains, oilseeds  and groundnuts to determine mycotoxin levels and manage risk as part of export inspection and certification in terms of the Agricultural Product Standards Act (No. 119 of 1990) and prescribed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Some of the Mycotoxins that the PPECB Laboratory currently tests for include:

Deoxynivalenol (DON), also known as Vomitoxin is a Mycotoxin that commonly contaminates cereal-based foods worldwide. In the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health , Pestka and Smolinski (2005) published an article that showed that relative to toxicity, there are marked species differences, with the pig being most sensitive to DON, followed by rodent > dog > cat > poultry > ruminants. Epidemiological studies suggest that DON may also produce emetic (vomiting) effects in humans.

Fusarium Moniliforme is one of the predominant fungi associated with maize intended for human and animal consumption world-wide.  Fumonisins, food-bome carcinogens that occur naturally in maize, were first isolated and chemically characterized in South Africa in 1988. Renowed South African scientist Professor Marasas showed that fumonisin B1 (FB1) is also a cancer promoter and initiator in rat liver; hepatotoxic to horses, pigs, rats, and vervet monkeys; cytotoxic to mammalian cell cultures; and phytotoxic to several plants. Fumonisins in home-grown maize have been associated with an elevated risk for human esophageal cancer in Transkei and China.  The natural occurrence of FB1 together with FB2 and FB3, has been reported in commercial maize and/or maize based feeds and foods.

Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by a number of fungi common to fruit- and vegetable-based products, most notably apples.  Although  research has been devoted to understanding the basic chemical and biological nature of patulin, as well as its interaction within foods and food production patulin contamination continues to be a challenge for the food industry.

In South Africa, Act 36 0f 1947 (Fertilizers, Farm feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act, 1947) regulates Fumonisons and Deoxynivalenol in animal feed, while the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972) regulates Patulin in apple juices and apple juice ingredients.See comment in PubMed Commons below

In ensuring compliance to regulations relating to mycotoxins in food and feed, the PPECB Laboratory offers ISO 17025 accredited testing of these mycotoxins (amongst others) in food, beverages and feed.


Further Reading:


Deoxynivalenol: toxicology and potential effects on humans. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2005 Jan-Feb;8(1):39-69  Pestka JJ1, Smolinski AT.


Fumonisins: Their implications for human and animal health.  Natural Toxins.  Volume 3, Issue 4, pages 193–198, July/August 1995.  Marasas W.


Comprehensive Review of Patulin Control Methods in Foods.  Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 8–21, January 2005.  Moake, M; Padilla-Zakour; Worobo, RW.


By: Dr Dharmarai Naicker