Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi when they grow on agricultural products before or after harvest, during transportation or storage. The molds most commonly involved belong to the genera Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium.
Mycotoxins pose a severe threat to humans and as well as causing huge economic losses in the feed and food industries. These toxic substances are known to be either carcinogenic (e.g. aflatoxin B1,ochratoxin A, fumonisin B1), oestrogenic (zearalenone), neurotoxic (fumonisin B1), nephrotoxic (ochratoxin), toxic to epidermis (trichothecenes) or immuno-suppressive (aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A and T-2 toxin).
The best known consequences of mycotoxins are their clinical (diseases) and subclinical (productivity losses) effects on farm animals. The reduction of the value of raw materials and complete feeds is a lesser known but very important repercussion.