Dangerous toxins can be found in food crops at any stage in the supply chain, which is why a regular schedule of food safety testing is vital to the health of the public. One such class of toxins, Mycotoxins, are naturally occurring compounds produced by certain types of molds that can appear on many kinds of agricultural products.
The mold affects common food items like cereals, fruit, soybeans, cereals, wheat, and coffee beans. Mycotoxins can be extremely harmful and even fatal for humans and animals, capable of causing acute poisoning as well as long-term effects like certain kinds of cancers, immune deficiency, and organ damage. Human exposure happens directly through eating infected foods or indirectly through animal or animal byproduct consumption; for example, consuming milk from a cow that ate contaminated grains.
The most common industries affected by mycotoxins include dairy, animal feed, produce, and grain. Health risks from mycotoxins in food can be mitigated through proper testing, inspection, drying, and storage.
Why Proper Testing for Mycotoxins in Food is Critical
Mycotoxin molds can penetrate beyond the surface of the food and can occur before or after harvest, during storage, or on or in the food itself under warm, damp, and humid conditions. While there are standards set for the maximum safe level of mycotoxins in foods, it is important that farms, food processors, distributors, and other food industry businesses conduct proper testing because of the mold’s ability to penetrate deeply into food products.
Food production is at an all-time high to keep up with demand in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to keep quality standards in place and maintain a firm handle on food safety as the speed of business increases.
Mycotoxins are resistant to decomposition and digestion, so they pass through to humans in meat and dairy products. Cooking and freezing won’t destroy mycotoxins as they would some other pathogens and toxins. Analyzing mycotoxins in food presents some challenges, as mold toxins are naturally occurring contaminants. In addition, they are not uniformly spread throughout products and can cause serious damage even at very low levels. These factors make it extremely important to properly sample and test products, and to do so frequently.
Have Confidence in a Trusted Partner
When testing and analyzing for mycotoxins in food products, it’s important to partner with a trusted lab that will get you accurate results, quickly. The lab should have a strong reputation for quality and hold certifications in mycotoxin testing.
Barrow-Agee Laboratories holds numerous microbiology and mycotoxin testing certifications, including the designation as a Florida Department of Agriculture Certified Feed Lab for Nutrients, Mycotoxins, and Micro-organisms, and we adhere to the standards set forth by these organizations.
Our test result turnaround times are typically within five business days, and are reported through a convenient online results portal as soon as they are available. Faster results means our customers’ products get to shelves faster, increasing revenue and reducing downtime. The increase in production during COVID-19 and other industry surges does not impact our service. We offer flexible support as a backup lab or full-service lab to our clients. During emergency situations, we are able to turn around test results at an accelerated rate.
With the severity and prevalence of mycotoxins in the food industry, it is important to stay vigilant and regularly test products. Contact Barrow-Agee Laboratories today to discuss your needs or submit a sample.