U.S –  Alltech, a global leader in animal health and nutrition, has released its 2023 US Harvest Analysis Report, providing insights into the mycotoxin risks associated with corn products, a primary ingredient in dog and cat food.

The report highlights the impact of varied weather conditions across the United States on the prevalence of mycotoxins. It underscores the importance of ongoing monitoring for food and animal feed producers.

According to Alltech, the weather conditions in 2023, characterized by a combination of drought and high rainfall, have increased the risk of certain mycotoxins in corn products, a crucial ingredient in pet food production. 

While aflatoxin is commonly tested for pet food safety, Alltech’s analysis reveals that deoxynivalenol, ochratoxin, zearalenone, and fumonisin also pose significant risks to the safety of dog and cat food.

The comprehensive analysis, based on 418 crop samples collected between August 30 and November 16 from across the country, indicates an overall lower mycotoxin risk for corn grain and silage in 2023 compared to recent years. However, the report notes “pockets of higher risk” in certain regions.

The Upper Midwest region saw a decrease in mycotoxin risk, while the Eastern United States experienced an increase, particularly for deoxynivalenol. Max Hawkins, Ph.D., technical support manager with Alltech’s mycotoxin management team, emphasized the specific risks in different regions.

He stated, “Drought in the Southwest and the Western Corn Belt created distinct fumonisin risks in this region, while further eastward, late-season rainfall created ideal conditions for Fusarium toxins, such as type B trichothecenes, to flourish.

The analysis indicates a higher mycotoxin risk projection in the East and Midwest, particularly for Fusarium and deoxynivalenol. In Iowa, Alltech observed a surprisingly high risk of aflatoxin B1 and the presence of Penicillium in grain products.

Out of the 190 corn grain samples analyzed between September 5 and November 21, 2023, the average mycotoxin level per sample was 4.4, with 87% of samples containing multiple mycotoxins. 

Alltech categorized the risk levels by species, revealing that roughly 48.4% of samples affecting dog and cat food were considered low risk, 18.4% moderate risk, and 33.2% high risk.

Alltech emphasized the importance of ongoing monitoring, stating that even though most corn entered storage at around 14% moisture in 2023, testing for mycotoxin levels after storage is crucial.

Hawkins recommended that animal feed producers conduct regular testing of corn silage every 60 to 90 days to remain vigilant against fluctuating mycotoxin risks. 

He emphasized that “ingredients will rarely be in better condition than when they are harvested.” 

The report aims to assist producers in maintaining the safety and quality of pet food through informed risk management practices.

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