The Threat of Mycotoxins - Silo Cleaning UK

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The Threat of Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins and how they should be handled in order to avoid contamination has recently been the subject of discussion in the media.

For those who may not be aware, mycotoxins are chemical compounds, produced by mounds of fungal that are most often seen growing on raw materials that are left untouched for a long time. This can have a knock-on effect, not least the fact that mycotoxins can spread contamination towards food crops. As the name implies, these chemicals are toxic, for both humans and animals, making mycotoxins very dangerous to be exposed to.

Worryingly, it is estimated that around a quarter of the world’s agricultural produce has been contaminated by the likes of mycotoxins, with mycotoxins themselves being ranked as the third most important and significant threat in the world to humans, animals and plants after bacteria and pesticides, which concerns producers of food and any edible products since maximum tolerance levels for mycotoxins consist of very low daily intakes.

There are many forms of mycotoxins, and according to the Food Standards Agency, the mycotoxins which can cause the most damage from the standpoint of food safety and general consumer health are aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2, M1); ochratoxin A; patulin; and toxins which are produced by Fusarium moulds, which include fumonisins (B1, B2, B3), trichothecenes (in particular nivalenol, deoxynivalenol, T-2 and HT-2 toxin), and zearalenone. Amongst the health problems that mycotoxins can cause include DNA damage, cancer for both animals and humans (liver cancer is most common in the latter case), kidney damage, suppression of the immune system, gastrointestinal problems and disorders with reproduction. Needless to say, mycotoxins can be very dangerous, and so handling them is of the utmost importance. Work to contain and reduce mycotoxins is encouraged to begin as early as is feasibly possible in the value chain, but how do you handle the situation if it has already escalated?

Fortunately, this is where we at Buchen-ICS can help. As part of our silo cleaning services, we can detect any outstanding materials which may be toxic and/or can cause harm in any way, and remove them so that these chemicals cannot bring about any further problems, whether it be to food products or anything else being produced by your business. Different silos can produce different toxic chemical compounds, and it stands to reason that the chemicals which you would find in a silo depend upon the products being stored in there. To give one example, a study by Gonzales Pereyra in 2011 compared the discovery and build-up of mycotoxins found in two different forms of silo, one being trench silos and the other being silo bags, and between each silo, yeasts such as aspergillus, penicillium and fusarium and such mycotoxins as aflatoxins and verticilliodies could be found, just some of the mycotoxins that can be found in different types of silos.

As you can see, mycotoxins are common, common enough to really raise eyebrows, and therefore should your silos contain mycotoxins or if they have the potential to contain mycotoxins based on the food products that your business are growing, it is absolutely imperative to use silo cleaning services to remove these mycotoxins, thus reducing the chances of future health problems, and to identify their presence so that you will be able to analyse your own processes to determine where the mycotoxins are originating, allowing you to take steps to eliminate them and prevent them reappearing in the future.

Get in touch if you’re interested in finding out more about our silo cleaning services and how we use these to identify and remove mycotoxins.