The difference between molds and mycotoxins in animal feed

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.

I have received many inquiries on distinguishing
the difference between molds and mycotoxins in animal feed.


Molds are microorganisms that proliferate on
organic material when heat and moisture increase. Molds consume the organic
matter in cereals and other feed ingredients. As a result of their metabolism
they produce toxins or mycotoxins, which they release in their immediate


The confusion usually arises when it comes to
control measures for molds and mycotoxins. Molds are destroyed by excess heat
(for example, during pelleting or extrusion), but such “sterile” material is
not protected against new mold growth. Alternatively, molds can be eliminated
by the use of certain organic acids, which have the negative effect of
increased feed cost and corrosiveness. Unfortunately, neither method affects in
any way mycotoxins already present.


Mycotoxins are neutralized by three methods

Enzymatic destruction

Mineral adsorption

Yeast-based binding


No single anti-mycotoxin binder is effective
against all different types of mycotoxins, and such products do not affect mold
growth. Thus, in essence, molds and mycotoxins are
closely related, but their control is distinct and requires a different