News from CRIS: Trending - Aflatoxins

September 15, 2021

What are aflatoxins? 

Aflatoxins are a family of compounds naturally produced by certain fungi, most often mold from the Aspergillus Flavus species. Aflatoxins are poisonous and can be carcinogenic (meaning it has the potential to cause cancer) and mutagenic (meaning it has the potential to mutate a host’s DNA) produced by certain fungi, most often mold from the Aspergillus Flavus species (1,2).
Like many fungi, aflatoxin-producing molds thrive in warm, humid environments. The fungi that produce aflatoxins grow well on common crops used as pet food ingredients such as corn, peanuts, wheat, and other grains. Molds that produce aflatoxins can grow on plants in the field prior to harvest or after harvest if not stored properly (1,2).
It’s important to note that the presence of Aspergillus Flavus on a crop does not automatically mean that the crop’s contaminated with aflatoxins. The presence of mold does not mean the mold is producing aflatoxin. Likewise, because corn, peanuts, wheat, and grains are often processed prior to use as ingredients in food, the presence of mold may not be visible, hence making aflatoxin more challenging to detect.


Are regulations in place to prevent harm from aflatoxin contamination?

Yes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food for domestic animals (e.g., dogs, cats, etc.) to contain no more than 20 parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxin, which represents a very low acceptable limit (1,2).
Additionally, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regulates the allowable limits of aflatoxins.


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