The Big Four Animal Food Safety Hazard Categories- Part 1- Mycotoxins

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The next four posts will cover animal food safety hazard categories emphasized in recent FDA FSMA inspections.  The first one covers Mycotoxins.  The others to be covered include medications, nutrient toxicity and deficiency and physical hazards like metals and plastics.


This chemical hazard is a naturally-occurring one that all feed mills must understand, identify and demonstrate how they are reducing the likelihood of the hazard finding its way into the animal feed. There are several mycotoxins but the ones drawing the most attention during inspections are aflatoxin, DON (or vomitoxin) and Fumonisin. The FDA has established an enforceable action level for Aflatoxin, an advisory level for vomitoxin and a guidance level for fumonisin. Different levels of safety are established for each mycotoxin depending a specific species. A Hazard Analysis should identify each mycotoxin and the hazard(s) it presents by species.

The most effective way to identify the presence of a mycotoxin is to test for it. Onsite testing of commodities like corn, wheat, barley and milo is the best way to determine mycotoxin levels in a timely manner. Another step to take is to establish supplier requirements that compel the supplier to test for mycotoxins and to supply a certificate of analysis or other document showing the results of testing. This is often done for processed grains and by-products like DDGS, soybean meal, or MIDDS.

Be sure to set up a schedule and follow it. Your schedule for commodities like corn may require testing of the first load from each farm at the start of harvest and random testing afterwards, if mycotoxins are not being found above the FDA levels. On the other hand, it would be appropriate to require testing results from your suppliers of DDGS or MIDDS for each load received with periodic testing on your own. 

Field reports and other temporal information may also be used to determine the probability of mycotoxins in the commodities you receive as well as amount of testing that you perform . This information may also reveal other mycotoxins that need to be evaluated. 

The main thing to remember is that the feed company is responsible to effectively control the hazards that can render feed unsafe.   Onsite testing is the most effective way to detect mycotoxins.  

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Medication Use -One of the Big Four Animal Food Safety Hazard Categories

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