New methodologies are to be employed to ensure that Food Fortress members can effectively manage the growing challenge from mycotoxin contaminations in feed materials.

Network members attending the Food Fortress annual meeting in Armagh heard that while current results indicate that the risks to the food chain from Dioxins, Heavy Metals, Aflatoxins and Pesticides residues are well under control, increased  levels of some mycotoxins are being reported. While the toxins detected pose no threat to human consumers they have the potential to impact on animal health and performance. 

Speaking at the meeting Professor Chris Elliot, Director of the Institute of Global Food Security at Queens said,  “The search for more advanced analytical techniques to meet this challenge has led to an agreement with the University of Vienna where new methodologies have been developed which will widen the scope of our testing and help identify the most effective mitigation. This new methodology will be employed at the Queens University laboratory in Belfast and will improve our ability to manage these toxins”. 

Professor Chris Elliott Director of the Institute of Global Food Security at Queens with Robin Irvine, Food Fortress Director.
Professor Chris Elliott Director of the Institute of Global Food Security at Queens with Robin Irvine, Food Fortress Director.

Robin Irvine, Food Fortress director explained that measurement of these anti-nutrients and effective mitigation is the key to driving livestock performance and guidance on the safe inclusion rates for different raw materials, the susceptibility of different species and ages of livestock and the use of binding agents which neutralise the anti-nutrient activity is provided on the members website”.


In his report to Food Fortress members, Director Robin Irvine stated that the sampling program now covers 79 compound feed manufacturers – including 16 in the republic of Ireland and 7 on the UK mainland. He confirmed that the program was now self-financing and acknowledged the assistance of InvestNI who had helped to fund the network through the start-up period.  

“We have 5 million tonnes of compound feed production covered by our surveillance and with around 80 samples passing through our system every month we have amassed a substantial database of results and a clear understanding of the contamination risks facing the industry. The fact that the principal importing companies are also contributing their test results on imported feed materials adds another dimension to the program and allows us to identify the challenges coming from other parts of the world.”

Professor Elliot reported that the annual review of Food Fortress carried out by Queens’ confirmed the effectiveness of the program  - “Northern Irelands feed businesses have the world’s leading program for the management of risks to the feed and food chain and the Food Fortress network is the envy of every other region - it gives a competitive advantage to the product of Northern Ireland. “The local feed trade is to be congratulated for what has been achieved through the collaborative approach to feed surveillance. The sharing of information with the authorities is also a first, and has created a positive relationship between industry and the regulators with the common aim of protecting the food chain”