Mycotoxin Detection in Animal Feed
Mycotoxins are health hazardous metabolites of some mould fungi species that grow on foodstuffs or animal feed. Mycotoxins enter the human food chain directly over plant-based food or indirectly via carry-over from contaminated meat or other animal products. This poses a high risk to human health as the majority of the mycotoxins are carcinogenic, genotoxic or target kidney and liver.
A particular problem of the neutralization of mycotoxins is the particular stability of these harmful molecules. They can neither be destroyed by heat treatment occurring during cooking or baking nor by freezing processes. Only the complete avoidance of contaminated food and feedstuff provides sufficient protection. In order to protect public health it is of vital importance to have sensitive, accurate and affordable rapid tests for the detection and quantification of mycotoxins.
One important step in this direction is a fully automated device performing an ELISA test with subsequent optical detection that was developed at the Institut für Mikrotechnik Mainz within the EU-project microFLUID. The device allows a reliable and quantitative detection of mycotoxins in animal feed. The fully automated system with integrated shredder offers the advantage to process raw material such as maize, seeds or pellets directly.
Employment of microfluidic analysis techniques facilitates miniaturization of the system, thus, allowing for the use of small quantities of reagents for the performance of sample analysis. This reduces costs and, moreover, avoids the handling of large amounts of dangerous toxins. Notably, the portability and automation of the system enables in-field analysis that can be performed by moderately trained personnel. With this new system not only time and costs will be reduced, but also a significant improvement in the prevention and control of contamination with mycotoxins can be accomplished.