Greater mycotoxin risk in imported cereals — why?

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

Greater mycotoxin risk in imported cereals — why?

As a field nutritionist, consulting worldwide, I had created a "picture" regarding the risk of cereal mycotoxin contamination: National cereals are easier to assess, whereas imported cereals come with a greater risk. The latter can be defended on the ground that imported cereals are usually made on a large scale and include partial loads from diverse sources. The former case implies the buyer either knows the region or even the producer, and purchases are made on a smaller scale. Not a golden rule, but one that can be correct in most cases — your experiences may vary!

Very recently, I was discussing this issue with an authority on the import-export business of cereals, worldwide. What I was told was next verified by other sources, mostly buyers who had relatively bad experiences. Could this be a conspiracy theory or mere coincidence? I will let you make the final decision.

I was told that some traders tend to buy and export the most heavily-contaminated cereal loads because nobody wants them locally, and because of that, they are the least expensive. This partially confirms my general theory of higher risk associated with imported cereals, but there is more. Certain exporters prefer to send such loads to areas or countries where mycotoxin detection programs are weak or non-existent (usually developing countries), or simply where they don’t care to check for mycotoxins (this includes a major EU country that imports cereals.)

Hard words, but we live in a hard world. Bottom line: We should always check for mycotoxins, buy from reputable traders and keep an eye on global mycotoxin reports to avoid importing cereals from heavily affected regions. I will be the last to advocate using any anti-mycotoxin agent as a blanket application, but failing to keep an eye on mycotoxins, I don’t see any other alternatives. Better safe than sorry.

I am happy to read your experiences, so please share them by leaving a comment below.