10. Mycotoxins & Enterotoxins - EFRAC | Drug, Food, Gas, Proficiency Testing Laboratory

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    Mycotoxins are Toxic secondary Metabolites (small Organic Molecules) excreted by filamentous fungi such as Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium. When present in Food in sufficiently high quantities, they Damage DNA and interfere with Fetal Development. The intensity of Toxicity ranges from acute to chronic resulting in skin irritation, weak immune system, brain and nerve damage, and even death. Mycotoxin Research debuted with the discovery of Aflatoxin, a Mycotoxin in the U.K. in 1960 following mass death of Turkeys.

    Aflatoxin Secreting Fungi Contaminate Crops in the Field, at Harvest, or during Storage threatening Human and Animal Health on ingestion. Cereals (e.g. maize, rice, and wheat), tree nuts (e.g. pistachios, walnuts, and Brazil nuts), cottonseed, and groundnuts are a few of the susceptible Crops. Unrefined vegetable oils extracted from contaminated seeds or nuts usually contain aflatoxin but are rendered harmless during the refining process. Aflatoxin B1, Fumonisins, and Patulin are suspected Human Carcinogens.

    B1, B2, G1 and G2 are the 04 main Aflatoxins out of the 20 ones known. Aflatoxin M1 and M2 show up in Animal and Human Milk post ingestion of toxin-contaminated food and feed respectively. B1>G1> B2>G2 portrays the comparative toxicity of these 04 Aflatoxins with B1 being the highest & G2 the lowest. Other regulated Aflatoxins are Ochratoxin A (OTA), Deoxynivalenol (DON), Zearalenone, Fumonisins B1, B2, B3, T-2 / HT-2 toxin, Citrinin, Patulin, Ergot Alkaloids.

    The Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for Mycotoxins is the Quantity of Mycotoxin that one can be exposed to over a lifetime without significant risk to health. Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins, and Residues) Regulation, 2011 specifies upper limits for common mycotoxins in different categories of food. The limits range from 1 µg/Kg of Aflatoxin in Cereals, Pulses, Peanuts, Oilseeds & Spices to 10 µg/Kg for Deoxynivalenol in Wheat and Fumonisin B1 & B2 in Corn. The FBOs are required to test the Food products during the “Under Process” Stage and “before being despatched” to Markets.

    The current Laboratory Methods for Quantitative Aflatoxin Analysis include TLC, HP-TLC, HPLC, and LC-MS/MS. Semi-quantitative and qualitative methods include Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA), Immunoaffinity Column, and Fluorescence Spectrometry.


    The term Food Poisoning’ covers a wide range of food-borne diseases caused by microorganisms like Viruses or Bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. 03 bacterial species S. aureus, B. cereus, and C. botulinum are common bacterial species that produce Enterotoxin, a heat-resistant globular protein in food causing illness. S. hyicus and S. intermedius are the 02 other Staphylococcal bacteria implicated in foodborne outbreaks. Ingestion of pre-formed bacterial toxins in food causes Food Intoxication, a type of illness, leading to Fever, Chills, Headache, Chest Pain, and Persistent Cough. SE-A was the 1st Enterotoxin to be isolated in 1959 followed by SE-B and SE-C.

    Soil-habiting bacteria B. cereus survives Pasteurization, thereby increasing the susceptibility of Dairy products. They are also found in Rice, Pasta, Dehydrated Food, Meat, and Vegetables. Ingestion of B. cereus spores in contaminated food produces Food poisoning-associated diarrheal enterotoxins and so is a major issue in the prevention of Food Spoilage.

    Highly potent neurotoxins can pre-form in food during the growth of C. botulinum and cause Botulism. There are at least seven different types of Cl. botulinum (A – G), each forming a different toxin. These can be divided into four groups, but only two, Groups I and II, are important in food safety.

    The protection of the food supplies and the need for food safety assurance makes Staphylococcal Enterotoxin (SE) detection extremely important. While traditional methods take time and are difficult to perform, Rapid ELISA- and RPLA-based methods are faster and simpler. Lateral flow immunoassays have the potential for detecting botulinum toxins along with automated tests based on Enzyme-Linked Fluorescence Assays (EFLA).

    EFRACs portfolio of Mycotoxin & Enterotoxin Testing Services involves the screening and quantification of toxins across different Food & Feed matrices, both during Manufacture and at the Pre-Market Stage.

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    Mycotoxin & Enterotoxins



    • Aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2)
    • Aflatoxins M1
    • DON (Vomitoxin)
    • Fumonisins
    • ZON (Zearalenone)
    • Ochratoxin
    • T2/HT2
    • Toxin
    • Patulin
    • Ergot Alkaloids & other Mycotoxins


    • AOAC
    • ISO/EN
    • APHA
    • FSSAI Lab Manual


    • LC-MS/MS
    • ELISA
    • RT-PCR