Transfer of aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, and their conjugates from cereals and other food commodities



Research group


211,150 Euros

Funding body

National Plan (MINECO, Spain)

Type of action

Project reference




Aflatoxins (AFs) and Fusarium toxins (deoxynivalenol (DON), in particular) are important Food Safety concerns in cereal commodities. In cereals, problems related to those toxins start at field level, where depending on meteorological conditions and pests, moulds may develop and infect the grains, with the subsequent toxin accumulation. Although several strategies have been implemented for crop protection, still it is not possible to guarantee low mycotoxin levels in our raw materials. Thus, the EU has set maximum permitted levels for mycotoxins in cereals, including raw materials, feed and food products.
In close collaboration with a leading dairy company in Spain, corn and other raw materials like silage and cottonseed will be investigated as possible sources of AFs intake of dairy cattle. In this proposal, we aim to investigate the carry-over of aflatoxin B1 from feed to milk (AFM1), and also of AFM1 from raw milk to heat treated milk, and DON from barley to beer and from wheat flour/bran to bakery products. In the case of DON, not only the parent toxin, but its conjugates (3-acetyl-DON, DON-3-glucoside, epoxy-DON) will be analysed in the processed samples in order to assess the real DON concentration that might be finally bioaccessible. In the case of feeds, not only AFs but other toxins including DON, zearalenone and T-2 toxin will be analysed and their concentration will be correlated with the cattle performance parameters provided by the dairy company; moreover, the potential carry over, if any, of these toxins to milk will be assessed. Regarding the carry-over of DON to bakery products, previous studies carried out in our laboratory showed that in those steps in food processing where high amylase or xylanase activity occurs, a release of DON from the food matrix can occur,
thus leading to higher DON presence in finished products than in raw materials, and this was the starting point for the study of carry-over of DON in bakery products in this project. With the results of the project, a set of recommendations will be issued to the farmers/food industry, regarding the need to adjust the raw materials specifications for mycotoxin levels (always under the levels set in the legislation), depending on the kind of formulation or food product to be obtained.