Distillers grains surveys reveal Ohio as mycotoxin hot spot

By Holly Jessen | March 28, 2012

Two separate surveys of mycotoxin levels in distillers grains in late 2011 and early 2012 show levels exceeding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory levels for swine. Mycotoxin levels in DDGS in other states were low, on the other hand. “As some of you that have been using DDGs in Ohio might expect, we found a lot of DON [deoxynivalenol, a specific type of mycotoxin] in dried distillers grains from Ohio,” said Ken Purser, general manager of Nutriquest. “The average was just over 10 [parts per million,] and these were samples taken from our customers as well as ethanol plants, so these DDGs were actually in feed industry.”

Purser gave a presentation on the results of the surveys on March 21 in Des Moines, Iowa, during a half-day meeting sponsored by the Mason City, Iowa-based company. Nutriquest, which maintains a database of DDGS nutrient loadings from more than 140 ethanol plants, is often asked if it tests for mycotoxins, he told the audience. Although the company doesn’t do that routinely, the survey was done in response to that interest.

Purser’s presentation included results from a Nutriquest survey as well as one conducted by Poet Nutrition. Another contributor of information was David Schmale of Virginia Tech. The Nutriquest survey measured levels of two types of mycotoxins, DON and zearalenone (ZEA) while Poet focused on DON levels.

Results from the Nutriquest survey showed the seven samples taken in Ohio had average levels of 10 ppm DON and more than 6 ppm ZEA. The remainder of the samples taken from New York, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Missouri did not exceed FDA advisory levels for swine.

The Poet survey revealed similar results, with Ohio samples exceeding 12 ppm DON and DDGS from other states not exceeding the FDA advisory levels. Purser said he had heard of mycotoxin “hot spots” in Indiana and Nebraska and the survey did show somewhat higher levels in Indiana and Michigan. However, overall, the two surveys showed there weren’t high enough levels to cause concern anywhere but in Ohio, Purser said. DDGS for swine feed in Ohio should be monitored carefully for potential mycotoxin contamination, he added.