Feed formulation: Set mycotoxins as “limiting nutrients”?

With recent advances in animal nutrition we gain more and more understanding of the bioavailability and the adverse effects of anti-nutritive factors such as trypsin-inhibitors, allergens, binding agents and toxins. So far we keep these unwanted factors as low as possible and conduct a kind of risk management by limiting the use of raw materials and ingredients that could be potential carriers.

While the EU member states and a few others follow the principle of zero-tollerance for mycotoxins and do not allow dilution (this is blending contaminated batches with “clean” material) other markets actively promote it. Feed safety – it seems – finds different approaches, from strickt to more pragmatic.

However, until a certain threshold mycotoxins are accepted in final feeds. But then they are all treated the same. Some producers routinely add a mycotoxin binder to all feeds targeting the most susceptible species while others try a more differentiated approach and decide on a case to case basis depending on test results. This rather slow response creates extra work and can be quite costly.

A more professional approach could be to automate the decision making process by adding DON, zeralenone, fumonisins, T2, Ochratoxin-A and other candidates as limiting nutrients to the feed formulation matrix. Technically it is easy. By setting “requirements” of total maximum allowance per species and life cycle test results from individual raw materials could come into play. The outcome could be a reduction of inclusion rates or the automatic choice of the right dose of the right mycotoxin binding agent – whatever the most economical solution would be.

The question is: Will it be accepted to see myotoxins set as “nutrients”?