The Occurrence of Mycotoxins in Raw Materials and Fish Feeds in Europe and the Potential Effects of Deoxynivalenol (DON) on the Health and Growth of Farmed Fish Species

Koletsi, P.; Schrama, J.W.; Graat, E.A.M.; Wiegertjes, G.; Lyons, Philip; Pietsch, Constanze


The first part of this study evaluates the occurrence of mycotoxin patterns in feedstuffs and fish feeds. Results were extrapolated from a large data pool derived from wheat (n = 857), corn (n = 725), soybean meal (n = 139) and fish feed (n = 44) samples in European countries and based on sample analyses by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in the period between 2012–2019. Deoxynivalenol (DON) was readily present in corn (in 47% of the samples) > wheat (41%) > soybean meal (11%), and in aquafeeds (48%). Co-occurrence of mycotoxins was frequently observed in feedstuffs and aquafeed samples. For example, in corn, multi-mycotoxin occurrence was investigated by Spearman’s correlations and odd ratios, and both showed co-occurrence of DON with its acetylated forms (3-AcDON, 15-AcDON) as well as with zearalenone (ZEN). The second part of this study summarizes the existing knowledge on the effects of DON on farmed fish species and evaluates the risk of DON exposure in fish, based on data from in vivo studies. A meta-analytical approach aimed to estimate to which extent DON affects feed intake and growth performance in fish. Corn was identified as the ingredient with the highest risk of contamination with DON and its acetylated forms, which often cannot be detected by commonly used rapid detection methods in feed mills. Periodical state-of-the-art mycotoxin analyses are essential to detect the full spectrum of mycotoxins in fish feeds aimed to prevent detrimental effects on farmed fish and subsequent economic losses for fish farmers. Because levels below the stated regulatory limits can reduce feed intake and growth performance, our results show that the risk of DON contamination is underestimated in the aquaculture industry.