Reducing mycotoxin concentrations in oats through processing

Reducing mycotoxin concentrations in oats through processing

Consuming oats contaminated with mycotoxins can be hazardous to human and animal health. A recent study performed by the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory confirmed that dehulling whole oats can significantly reduce mycotoxins, which can have a large impact on the safety of oats for human consumption.

Oats, like other cereals, are susceptible to fungal infection, and many fungal species produce mycotoxins. Reducing exposure to mycotoxins by removing them from oats and other cereals is important for safe consumption.

Dr. Sheryl Tittlemier and her team confirmed that mycotoxins are largely associated with oat hulls and that dehulling contaminated whole oats removed between 60 to 100% of mycotoxins. The process of steaming and kilning dehulled oats also lowered concentrations of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON or “vomitoxin”) by an average of 27%.

Through this study, the team also demonstrated that the type of grinding equipment used to prepare samples would impact mycotoxin analysis and that it’s better to use equipment that produces smaller particle sizes. This is important for monitoring and keeping food safe as it ensures results from test procedures are consistent and accurate.


“The results of this study will guide our oat processing and sampling procedures. It’s important for us to have a consistent and effective way to determine concentrations of mycotoxins and be able to remove them from whole oats to ensure that oat products remain safe to eat.”

Dr. Sheryl Tittlemier
Program manager, Trace organics and trace elements, Grain Research Laboratory
Sheryl Tittlemier

For more information:

Tittlemier, S.A., Blagden, R., Chan, J., McMillan, T.L., Pleskach, K., Izydorczyk, M.S. et al. World Mycotoxin Journal (2020).

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