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Economic and health risks by mycotoxins in food and feeding stuff


Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of molds. They were detected to be toxic to humans and animals and contribute considerably to derogate health and well-being. Cereals may contain mycotoxins. Food and feeding stuff produced from contaminated cereals is a major problem. A particular problem is the multi-component analysis of different classes of relevant mycotoxins in cereals and resulting products. The aim is to develop and validate such a method in order to analyze several cereals from different proveniences for different mold load under different storage conditions.



Four partners from universities in North-Rhine-Westphalia combine their knowledge on the field of phytopathology (Prof. Dehne, INRES-Bonn), toxicology (Prof. Degen, IfADo-Dortmund), synthesis of isotope labeled reference compounds (Prof. Humpf, Münster), and environmental and food analyses (INFU-Dortmund) in the framework of the project. At IfADo (project leader) toxicity of mixtures of mycotoxins will be investigated in cell cultures. The food chemistry department (Münster) will synthesize and provide isotope-labeled internal reference compounds and the INRES will provide samples of cereals (contaminated/non contaminated). At INFU a new multi-component method for the LC-MS/MS analyses of more than 30 relevant toxins in cereals will be established. In contrast to presently avaiable analytical methods for single mycotoxins or for a single group of mycotoxins the multi-method enables the fast and comprehensive assessment of the contamination. Thus, a reliable database will be established and a first exemplary scheme for the assessment of the contamination of mycotoxins in food and feeding stuff should result. That will be economical beneficial for the cereal-processing industry.


Most of the analyzed mycotoxins could be extracted and determined in wheat and maize at detection limits below 10 or 25 ng/g. The LC-MS/MS method contain the aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1 und G2), ochratoxins (A und B), toxins from fusarium acetoxyscirpenol, acetyl-DON, beauvericin, diacetoxyscirpenol, DON, enniatin B1, fumonisin B1 and B2, fusarenon, HT-2-toxin, T2-toxin, moniliformin, neosolaniol, zearalenone, zearalenol as well as the secondary metabolites ergocornine und verrucarin.
After the establishment of the method, a lot of wheat, maize and rye was analyzed. Sampling was done in north rhine westfalia, Germany, Europe and worldwide. The results where now cpulled together with fungi species found on the cereals. In the near future the investigation of potentially contaminated feeding stuff, food, and material from biogas plant is planned.



LC-MS/MS chromatograms of an extracted wheat sample (spiked with 10 ng/g)



Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia



  1. Herebian, D.; Zühlke, S.; Lamshöft, M.; Spiteller, M. (2009):
    "Multi- mycotoxin analysis in complex biological matrices using LC- ESI/MS: Experimental study using triple stage quadrupole and linear ion trap- Orbitrap" J Separ Sci, 32(7), 939-948.

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Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Spiteller
Tel.: 0231 755-4080
Dr. Sebastian Z├╝hlke
Head of Laboratory
Tel.: 0231 755-4088