Study evaluates mycotoxins in commercial dog food

Several studies have recently made headlines involving mycotoxin levels in commercial pet foods, and according to the Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Bologna in Italy, even more are needed.

This conclusion comes after one study of Italian pet food looked at levels of contamination of the most important mycotoxins including deoxynivalenol, fumonisin B1 and B2, aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2, ochratoxin A and zearalenone in 48 samples of extruded dry dog food found in the Italian market.  Of these samples, 24 came from standard economy lines and 24 were from premium dog food lines.

Published in the Journal Animal Feed Science and Technology, this study showed that although the concentrations of many  mycotoxins tested were under the limits set by European legislation, the analysis revealed a substantial presence of deoxynivalenol, fumonisins and ochratoxin A, with values above the limit of quantification (5 μg/kg) in 100%, 88% and 81% of the samples, respectively.

According to an article, aflatoxins and zearalenone contamination, in contrast, proved to be very modest, with 88% and 75% of the samples, respectively, showing concentrations below the corresponding limit of quantification (5 μg/kg for aflatoxins and 10 μg/kg for zearalenone).

The study also found that the concentrations of fumonisins and ochratoxin A were significantly higher in standard foods than in premium foods. Specific data includes:

  • 491 μg/kg in standard foods vs. 80.2 μg/kg in premium foods for fumonisin B1
  • 113 μg/kg in standard foods vs. 38.5 μg/kg in premium foods for fumonisin B2
  • 599 μg/kg in standard foods vs. 103 μg/kg in premium foods for total fumonisins
  • 23.8 μg/kg in standard foods vs. 13.0 μg/kg in premium foods for ochratoxin A

Furthermore, as stated in the article, a simultaneous presence of different mycotoxins (at concentrations higher than their limit of quantification) was observed in most of the pet foods analyzed.

In particular, the study found the following:

  • 52% of the samples were contaminated by three types of mycotoxins
  • 25% of the samples were contaminated by four types of mycotoxins
  • 2% of the samples were contaminated by all the mycotoxins evaluated

Researchers from this study said these results indicate that more investigation is needed regarding  the potential risks deriving from chronic exposure to low doses of the different types of mycotoxins that pets are exposed to today. Previous studies have discovered that mycotoxins are deadly in high doses, and are scientifically linked to everything from liver or kidney disease to infertility to cancer.

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