Biology: What are Mycotoxins

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Risk identification
Next to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, mycotoxins belong to the potential chemical hazards related to animal feed of poultry. Mycotoxins are toxic compounds which are produced by several species of fungi genera such as Fusarium, Aspergillus and Penicillium. Production can occur before harvesting or during storage, is determined by environmental factors such as temperature and humidity and is mainly occurring in cereals and ground nuts. Usually, mycotoxins enter the food chain by contaminated feed [73]. Worldwide, incidences of mycotoxins in feed are quite common and might pose a concern for human health.
A well-known case of mycotoxins contamination of feed, which was the start of a raised concern about the health risks of mycotoxins, was the Turkey-X disease from the early 1960s [74]. In this case, groundnut cake, contaminated with cyclopiazonic acid and aflatoxins, produced by Aspergillus flavus, caused wide-ranging disease and death in turkeys [75]. As illustrated in the case, mycotoxin-containing feed can have serious effects on the health of animals after ingestion. The remaining question for this risk assessment is however whether mycotoxins may end up in the meat of animals, meant for human consumption, and have an effect on human health after ingestion in this way. Observations of aflatoxin- and ochratoxin residues in edible tissues of chicken broilers show that these mycotoxins are relevant in this risk assessment [76]. Other
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