Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites formed by mould contaminants. Introduction of mycotoxins in the food production chain can occur at different levels, for example via contaminated feed that is fed to dairy cattle and transferred to milk, or upon growth of moulds on cheese during ripening and storage. Dairy companies require risk assessments of mycotoxins in the production chain, allowing for effective control measures.
“Commissioned by the Dutch Dairy Association (NZO), we analysed the dairy production chain in the Netherlands with respect to mycotoxin risks,” says Marjon Wells-Bennik, Principal Scientist Food Safety. Animal feed proved to be the main source of mycotoxins in the dairy chain. The study included comprehensive surveys of feeds used at individual dairy farms and evaluation of carry-over from feed to milk and toxicological data. Not only may mycotoxins be transferred to milk, they also have an adverse effect on animal health and productivity. Analytical methods capable of measuring more than 20 mycotoxins in a single analysis run were used. NIZO assists dairy companies in making risk assessments and implementation of control measures, from the perspective of safety of dairy products to consumers.