Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Mycotoxins of regional importance

There are a number of mycotoxicoses which are not widely occurring, but which are of importance to the exposed populations in the affected regions. Mycotoxicoses which fall into this category (Table 2) include those associated with moulds occurring in both growing and stored forage crops. The moulds and mycotoxins include those which have been associated with a variety of livestock diseases including ergotism, paspalum staggers, ryegrass staggers, facial eczema, fescue foot, lupinosis, slobber syndrome and stachybotryotoxicosis (Lacey, 1991).

Table 2 Moulds and mycotoxins of regional importance

Mould species

Mycotoxins produced


Claviceps purpurea

Ergotamine alkaloids


Claviceps fusiformis

Clavine alkaloids


Claviceps paspali


Paspalum staggers

Acremonium loliae


Ryegrass staggers

Balansia spp?



Pithomyces chartarum


Facial eczema

Phomopsis leptostromiformis



Rhizoctonia leguminicola


Slobber syndrome

Stachybotrys atra



Diplodia maydis



Most farm animals consume pasture crops, either by grazing on the living pasture or by consuming the crops as hay or silage. The crops can be colonized by moulds throughout this period, the development of the moulds and the production of fungi being dependent on the prevailing ecosystem. Growing crops present a variety of micro-environments. For example, the uppermost leaves of a plant will be subjected to extreme fluctuations of temperature and relative humidity, whereas those leaves towards the base of the plant will present a more shaded, moderate, humid environment; the surface texture of the leaf will also effect the micro-environment.


The socio-economic system describes those social (eg cultural, political) and economic (macro- and micro) factors which will exert an important influence on events within the mycotoxicology system; and which should be most thoroughly addressed when any attempt is made to control the production of moulds and mycotoxins. In some instances, given the complexity and unpredictability of human behaviour, it can be very difficult to intervene successfully within the socio-economic system. However, technical interventions which are designed to alleviate spoilage will only be successfully implemented if they can be accommodated and exploited within the existing socio-economic system. Whenever efforts are made to improve the quality of foods and feeds, it should be clearly established that there is a definite need for a better quality product, and that the community is prepared to bear any associated increase in the cost of the improved commodity.


The successful management of interacting commodity systems ('commodity management') requires the co-ordinated inputs of an interdisciplinary team', where the potential advantages arising from the dynamics of the team are realised by fully exploiting the interactions between the skills, disciplines and backgrounds of the individual team members. The team will have the skills required to enable it to operate across commodity systems, identifying those factors which are compromising the quality of the products, and introducing appropriate interventions.

The Control System (Figure 6) illustrates a selection of preventative and curative interventions (measures) which may be utilised for the control of mycotoxins, once the nature of the contamination process has been properly evaluated.

Those factors which are compromising the quality of the products of the commodity system, and leading to the production of moulds and mycotoxins, may be evaluated by the implementation of: carefully designed surveillance studies; recently developed biomonitoring methods, to measure the exposure to mycotoxins of individuals; and socio-economic studies, which address a variety of social, marketing and financial issues (Coker, 1997). The occurrence of moulds and mycotoxins can be alleviated by the application of a variety of preventative measures both before and after harvest including, for example, appropriate pest and disease control measures and good harvesting, drying and storage practices. Once mycotoxin contamination has occurred, it can be alleviated by a variety of predominantly post-harvest measures including processing, detoxification, and segregation (Coker, 1997; FAO, 1999).

A structured, systematic approach to the control of mycotoxins is required, focusing upon the need for preventative control measures, and recognising the intimate interactions that occur throughout commodity systems and related systems.


Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a food safety management system that is based upon the systematic identification and assessment of hazards in foods, and the definition of means to control them. It is an important component of an integrated approach to food safety. The inter-relationship of HACCP with other food safety tools is illustrated in Figure 7.

Chapters 2 and 3 describe the adoption of HACCP as a means of effecting the systematic control of mycotoxins, culminating in case studies addressing the control of particular mycotoxin problems.

Figure 6 - The Control System

Figure 7 - Food safety tools: an integrated approach

After Food Safety Management Tools (Jouve 1998)


Austwick, P K C (1978) Mycotoxicoses in Poultry. pp 279-301. In: Mycotoxic Fungi, Mycotoxins, Mycotoxicoses: An Encylcopedic Handbook. Volume 2: Mycotoxicoses of Domestic and Laboratory Animals, Poultry, and Aquatic Invertebrates and Vertebrates. Wyllie, T D and Morehouse, L G (eds). Marcel Dekker, Inc, New York, US.

Beardall, J M and Miller, J D (1994) Diseases in humans with mycotoxins as possible causes. pp 487-539. In: Mycotoxins in Grain: Compounds other than Aflatoxin. Miller, J D and Trenholm, H L (eds). Eagan Press. St. Paul, Minnesota, US.

Bhat, R V, Beedu, S R, Ramakrishna, Y and Munshi, K L (1989) Outbreak of trichothecene mycotoxicosis associated with consumption of mould-damaged wheat products in Kashmir Valley, India. Lancet I, 35-37.

Bove, F J (1970) The story of ergot. Kager Verlag, Basel, New York.

Bradburn, N, Coker, R D. and Blunden, G (1994). The Aetiology of Turkey X Disease. Phytochemistry 35(3), 817.

Coker, R D (1997). Mycotoxins and their control: constraints and opportunities. NRI Bulletin 73. Chatham, UK: Natural Resources Institute.

Dowd, P F, Miller, J D and Greenhalgh, R (1989) Toxicity and some interactions of some Fusarium graminearum metabolites to caterpillars. Mycologia, 81, 646-650.

Fuchs, R, Radic, B, Ceovic, S, Sostaric, B and Hult, K (1991). Human exposure to ochratoxin A. In Mycotoxins, Endemic nephropathy and Urinary Tract Tumours. Castegnaro, M, Plestina, R, Dirheimer, G, Chernozemsky, I N and Bartsch, H (eds). IARC Publications No. 115, Lyon, France, IARC, pp 131-134.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (1993a) Aflatoxins. pp 245-395. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 56. IARC, Lyon, France.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (1993b) Toxins derived from Fusarium sporotrichioides: T-2 toxin. pp 467-488. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 56. IARC, Lyon, France.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (1993c) Toxins derived from Fusarium graminearum:zearalenone, deoxynivalenol, nivalenol and fusarenone X. pp397-444. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 56. IARC, Lyon, France.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (1993d) Toxins derived from Fusarium moniliforme. Fumonisins B1 and B2 and Fusarin C. pp 445-466. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 56. IARC, Lyon, France.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (1993e) Ochratoxin A. pp 489-521. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 56. IARC, Lyon, France.

International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) (1996) Toxigenic Fungi: Aspergillus. pp 347-381. In: Micro-organisms in Foods. 5: Microbiological Specifications of Food Pathogens. Roberts, T A, Baird-Parker, A C and Tompkin, R B (eds). Blackie Academic & Professional, London, UK. ibid. Toxigenic Fungi: Fusarium. pp 382-396. ibid. Toxigenic Fungi: Penicillium. pp 397-413.

JECFA (1996a). Ochratoxin A: A safety evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. WHO Food Additive Series, 35, pp 363-376.

JECFA (1996b). Patulin. Safety evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. WHO Food Additive Series, 35, pp 377-402.

Jouve, J L, Stringer, M F, Baird-Parker, A C. (1998) Food safety management tools, International Life Sciences Institute, Report under the responsibility of ILSI Europe risk analysis in microbiology task force, p10.

Krishnamachari, K A V, Bhat, R V, Nagarajan, V and Tilak, T B G (1975) Hepatitis due to aflatoxicosis. An outbreak in western India. Lancet i, 1061-1063.

Lacey, J (1991) Natural occurrence of mycotoxins in growing and conserved forage crops. pp 363-397. In: Mycotoxins and Animal Foods. Smith, J E and Henderson, R S (eds). CRC Press, London, UK.

Lopez-Garcia, R, Park, D L and Phillips, T D (1999). Integrated mycotoxin management systems. In Preventing Mycotoxin Contamination, FAO Food and Nutrition Division, FNA/ANA 23, pp 38-47.

Lubulwa, A S G and Davis, J S (1994) Estimating the social costs of the impacts of fungi and aflatoxins in maize and peanuts. pp 1017-1042 In: Stored Product Protection. Proceedings of the 6th International Working Conference on Stored-product Protection. Highley, E, Wright, E J, Banks, H J and Champ, B R (eds). CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

Luo, Y (1988) Fusarium toxins contamination of cereals in China. pp 97-98. In: Proceedings of the 7th International IUPAC Symposium on Mycotoxins and Phycotoxins, Tokyo, August 1988. Aibara, K, Kumagai, S, Ohtsubo, K and Yoshizawa, T (eds). Japanese Association of Mycotoxicology, Tokyo.

Marasas, W F O, Nelson, P E and Toussoun, T A (1984) Toxigenic Fusarium species. University Park, PA, Pennsylvania State University Press.

Mayer, C F (1953) Endemic panmyelotoxicoses in the russian grain belt. Part One:The clinical aspects of alimentary toxic aleukia (ATA), a comprehensive review. Mil. Serg. 113: 173-189.

Micco, C, Ambruzzi, M A, Miraglia, M, Brera, C, Onori, R and Benelli, L (1991) Contamination of human milk with ochratoxin A. pp 105-108. In: Mycotoxins, Endemic Nephropathy and Urinary Tract Tumours. Castegnaro, M, Plestina R, Dirheimer, G, Chernozemsky, I N and Bartsch, H (eds). IARC Scientific Publications No. 115. IARC, Lyon, France.

Miller, J D (1991) Significance of grain mycotoxins for health and nutrition. pp 126-135. In: Fungi and Mycotoxins in Stored Products. Champ, B R, Highley, E, Hocking, A D and Pitt, J I (eds). ACIAR Proceedings No. 36. Canberra, Australia.

Miller, J D (1994) Conference Report: 6th International Working Conference on Stored-product Protection. Australian Mycotoxin Newsletter 5(2), pages 1 and 8.

NTP (National Toxicology Program) Technical Report on the Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Fumonisin B1 (CAS No. 116355-83-0) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice. NTP TR 496. NIH Publication No. 99-3955.

Open University Business School (1987) Systems concepts and an intervention strategy. Block 3. In: Planning and Managing Change. The Open University. Milton Keynes, UK.

Pettersson, H, Holmberg, T, Larsson, K and Kaspersson, A (1989). Aflatoxins in acid-treated grain in Sweden and occurrence of aflatoxin M1 in milk. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 48, 411-420.

Pitt, J I and Miscamble, B F (1995) Water relations of Aspergillus flavus and closely related species. Jornal of Food Protection, 58, 86-90.

Pitt, J I (1996) What are mycotoxins? Australian Mycotoxin Newsletter. 7(4), page 1.

Rheeder, J P, Marasas, W F O, Thiel, P G, Sydenham, E W, Shephard, G S and van Schalkwyk, D J (1992) Fusarium moniliforme and fumonisins in corn in relation to human esophageal cancer in Transkei. Phytopathology, 82, 353-357.

Schiefer, H B, Hancock, D S and Bhatti, A R (1986) Systemic effects of topically applied trichothecenes. I. Comparative study of various trichothecenes in mice. Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 33A, 373-383.Bhavanishankar, T N, Ramesh, H P and Shantha, T (1988) Dermal toxicity of Fusarium toxins in combinations. Archives of Toxicology, 61, 241-244.

Udagawa, S (1988) Mycotoxicoses - the present problems and prevention of mycotoxins. Asian Medical Journal 31, 599 - 604.

van Egmond, H O & Dekker, W H (1997). Worldwide regulations for mycotoxins in 1995 - A compendium. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 64, FAO, Rome, Italy.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page