Poultry diets are composed primarily of a mixture of several feedstuffs such as cereal grains, soybean meal, animal by-product meals, fats, vitamin and mineral premixes. Out of these, cereal grains serve as the major source of toxic contaminants which when ingested by the bird may cause deleterious effects on health, performance and production. Most commonly known toxic contaminants are Mycotoxins which have ailed the industry for almost six decades.
Kemin India is the market leader in providing complete mycotoxin management solution to the protein industry including laboratory services, technical services and through their products. Recently, Think Grain Think Feed conducted an interview with Dr. Hari Chirakkal, Vice President, R&D, KAI to understand more about Kemin’s approach towards controlling the mycotoxin menace.
Dr. Hari, please provide a brief on Kemin’s mycotoxin management solutions?
Mycotoxin contamination always has been a major challenge in animal husbandry. Considering the challenge that mycotoxins poses to the industry, it has been a major focus for Kemin research team to find solutions to mitigate the risk. Kemin has a multi-level support system to help our customers to manage the risk associated with mycotoxin contamination. Our Customer Laboratory Services (CLS) team tests more than two thousand raw materials and finished feed samples every year and our Technical Services Team provide on-site support to farmers and feed producers on managing the risk. In addition to that we have a range of products under the brand name Toxfin™. We have recently launched a new product, Toxfin™ 360 which contains Synthetic Tectosilicates (STS) which is a broad-spectrum toxin binder.
What was the need of Synthetic Tectosilicates (STS). Tell us more about its origin story?
Innovation has been one of the major driving force for us in Kemin. Development of a toxin binder product with STS is a very good example of that. In 2013, our CLS and technical team shared some interesting insights on the increasing incidences of mycotoxicosis, occurrence of some newly prevalent mycotoxins like Cyclopiazonic Acid (CPA) and Mycophenolic Acid (MPA). In addition to that we have also observed that many feed samples containing alarming levels of pesticides like carbofuran, thiram, malathion, etc. entering the feed and food chain. We critically examined all the present technology used as toxin binders at that time and analyzed where they lacked in providing a complete solution. A dedicated research after three years led to the discovery of STS as a broad-spectrum toxin binder with the ability to bind both mycotoxins and selected pesticides.
That is a good amount of time in research. So, why do you think it took 3 years to develop this molecule?
There are several factors we need to consider when we develop a new toxin binder product. Obviously, the first one is finding a molecule that will effectively bind to the molecules we want to remove which in this case are mycotoxins and pesticides. That part is relatively easy. But it is important that the binding take place in the right conditions and changes in pH will not reverse it. In addition to that, we also should find a material that has far more affinity to the toxic compounds than the useful minerals, vitamins, and other feed ingredients. It was a big challenge to find something that has a very high affinity to all important mycotoxins and routinely used pesticides. Another important consideration is safety. We can’t compromise on the safety of the compounds we use in terms of its effect on the animal.
In these 3 years, we have studied a large number of materials and conducted multiple in vitro binding studies, in vivo trials to come up with the best solution which fulfills all the requirements of an ideal toxin binder.
Interestingly, Kemin is a pioneer in developing a more practical approach to study the binding ability of toxin binders by their unique ‘bi-phasic in vitro net binding’ and ‘in vivo excretion’ methods.
You are calling it a “Revolution in toxin binding”. Can you please explain what is this technology about? How is it unique?
This is a revolution because it is completely different and unique from all conventional technologies currently present in the market. STS, unlike any other material, is synthesized by a defined chemical process. This process allows us to design the material with desired porous structure, with a uniform pore size of 5Å and other characteristics. For example, the synthetic process also allows to functionalize the molecule with Bronsted and Lewis acidic sites, this optimizes the charge distribution on the surface and in the pores of STS which gives it a better binding efficiency. Also, the interaction taking place are of preferentially hydrophobic in nature confirmed by thermodynamic studies.
Please throw some light on how it is a 360-degree protection?
Toxfin™ 360, formulation containing STS, is a true 360-degree toxin management program as it not only has superior binding ability for the commonly found mycotoxins like AflaB1, OTA, Zea, FumB1, T-2 toxin but also for the less common mycotoxins like cyclopiazonic Acid (CPA) and mycophenolic Acid (MPA) which are also recognized by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as emerging threats. In addition to this, it has binding ability towards commonly occurring pesticides in maize/cereal grains like carbofuran, thiram, atrazine etc. All this with minimal interaction with nutrients like vitamins and therapeutic agents. Toxfin™ 360 is completely safe to use in animal feed. Like every other raw material used in Kemin’s formulations, STS also undergoes our stringent Raw Material Risk Assessment (RMRA) program and is free from heavy metals, dioxins and PCBs contamination (as per guidelines of EFSA).
The research behind STS sounds very convincing on paper and in the lab. Is it being accepted by customers as a viable solution? What is the feedback from the customer?
We launched Toxfin™ 360 (with the active ingredient STS) in July 2016 in the South Asian market. Currently, it is being considered as one of the most preferred toxin binders in the South Asian market and we have grown our market share in toxin binder market significantly with this product. Since its launch, we have received extremely good feedback from the market. Farmers who were otherwise ailed with the toxicity and consequent production drop have seen a tremendous improvement in performance of the bird. Toxfin™ 360 has delivered excellent results in breeder birds, at the time when the problem is at its peak i.e. in monsoon season and when newly harvested maize is used in commercial feed. It is now being used by breeder farmers, major integrators and commercial feed producers in South Asian markets as a year-round program. Toxfin™ 360 since its inception has helped to raise the standards of feed safety in more than 500,000 MT feed ensuring 160 million healthy chickens.
Finally, please throw some light on what the future beholds for the prevalence of mycotoxins and other contaminants which may enter feed and food chain?
In recent years, there has been a major shift in climatic conditions worldwide. This has brought in some serious concerns regarding mycotoxins and pesticide usage in crops. As on date, there is probably a dozen of mycotoxins which are considered as a threat to animals and humans. As there are more than 1000 mycotoxins identified, their emergence in future is not something unexpected. This requires companies like Kemin and feed producers to be prepared and act on the problem in advance and take it as a responsibility to provide safe feed and food to animal and humans.