Micotoxinas

Ensure the safety and legal compliance of your food products

Natural toxins occur naturally in living organisms. These toxins are not harmful to the organisms that produce them, but they may be harmful to animals or humans when they are ingested through food. Natural toxins have different chemical structures and are unique in their biological function and in their degree of toxicity.

Our portfolio of services includes the following:

  • Mycotoxins

  • Plant Toxins: Tropane and pyrrolizidine alkaloids

  • Other toxins: cereulide toxin


Mycotoxins are chemical compounds produced naturally (non-anthropogenic) in the secondary metabolism of some fungal genera. The most important are toxins produced by moulds of the genera Aspergillus, Fusarium and Penicillium.

Some unprocessed foods are susceptible to mycotoxin contamination and contribute to mycotoxin exposure such as: cereals, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, coffee beans, cocoa beans and spices.

Many processed foods represent a possible source of exposure to mycotoxins because they are not destroyed during this stage. These include cereal-based products (bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, etc.); beverages (wine, coffee, cocoa, beer, juices); animal-based foods (milk, cheese and some meat products), and infant foodstuffs.

Tropane alkaloids are secondary metabolites that occur naturally in several plant families, especially in the genus Datura. Datura stramonium seeds are not easily removed from sorghum, millet and buckwheat by sorting and cleaning. Therefore, these three cereals and their derived products, as well as processed cereal-based foods containing them, may be contaminated with tropane alkaloids.

Pyrrolicidin alkaloids (PAs) are natural toxins, produced by the secondary metabolism of plants, as a defence mechanism against herbivores. Varying contents of PAs have been found from trace levels up to 19% of the dry weight of the plant. A PAs have a common toxicity profile, the main signs of which include varying degrees of liver damage (centrolobular hepatocellular necrosis) and veno-occlusive disease. In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified PAs as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2B).

European legislation regulates the presence of these substances (mycotoxins, tropane alkaloids and PAs) in food. It is therefore essential to control these substances to ensure that the products which might contain them are legally compliant and food safe.

The presence of cereulide or emetic toxin is also a food safety hazard. This is a toxin produced by a bacterium, specifically Bacillus cereus. It is a thermostable toxin that cannot be destroyed by standard heat treatments. The toxin is produced during the stationary phase of the microorganism’s growth and accumulates in the food over time. Emetic intoxication, caused by ingestion of the toxin formed in the food, is characterized by acute nausea and vomiting.

At AINIA we give you value

  • We analyse a wide range of products and adapt to the most suitable matrices for each of our services: plant-based products (cereals, nuts, spices…), animal-based products ( viscera, muscle, eggs, milk…), food additives, food supplements, extracts, Pharmacopoeia samples, animal feed…
  • In the range of mycotoxins, our analytical methods include both regulated and non-regulated substances, such as deoxynivalenol metabolites. And include the following parameters:
    • Mycotoxins: Aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2; Ochratoxin-A; Fumonisins B1 and B2; Deoxynivalenol and its metabolites (3-Acetyl-DON/ 15-Acetyl-DON); Zearalenone; Toxins HT-2 and T-2; Nivalenol
    • Plant toxins:
      • Tropane alkaloids
      • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (we analyse all 35 pyrrolizidine alkaloids listed in the legislation, including 14 additional ones)
    • Other toxins such as cereulide(Bacillus cereus toxin)
  • We develop multi-residue analytical methods in order to optimise analysis time and to reduce costs, which would increase if various methods were analysed individually
  • Accredited to perform the following analytical tests:
    • Multiresidue method for mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin-A, fumonisins, HT-2 toxin, T-2 toxin, zearalenone, deoxynivalenol and its metabolites) by liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry detector (LC-MS/MS) in cereals, flours and derivatives and processed cereal-based foods
    • Aflatoxins B1, G1, B2 and G2 by liquid chromatography with fluorescence detector (LC-FLD) in liver and muscle, nuts, cereals, flours and derivatives, spices, dried fruits, processed nut foods, chocolate and chocolate-based products
    • Ochratoxin-A by LC-FLD in cured meat products, coffee, cereals, flours and derivatives, spices, must or grape juice, sultanas, wine
  • The laboratory has the necessary equipment to perform the sample treatment as required by Regulation (EC) No 401/2006, which requires homogenisation of large sample volumes (≥10 kg)
  • We develop and validate methods to determine toxins in matrices or complex products according to European Pharmacopoeia or customer-specific specifications
Consult scope in this link: ENAC Accreditations AINIA laboratories

Mycotoxins and other toxins

Our solutions include:

  • Consultation for selecting the substances and matrices to be monitored, or for optimising the sampling pressure in order to achieve an optimal cost/benefit ratio

  • Consulting or sampling in accordance with the regulatory standards for official testing and control of food products

  • Providing support in managing the logistics of samples in order to adapt the conditions of collection, conditioning, transport and reception of samples

  • Analyses are performed using the most appropriate techniques, combining criteria of high reliability, costs and deadlines adapted to our clients’ needs

  • Results are delivered through secure and accessible platforms, based on the most advanced information and communication technologies

  • Consultation to ensure the correct interpretation of the obtained results


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Begoña Company
Head of Chromatography Laboratory

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