The first multi-year study of mycotoxins in Canadian oats

The first multi-year study of mycotoxins in Canadian oats

Scientists in the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory’s Trace Organics and Trace Elements program conducted the first multi-year survey of mycotoxins in Canadian oats. The results of this study suggest the Canadian grain handling system is successfully keeping high concentrations of mycotoxins out of Canadian oat deliveries.

Oats, like other cereals, are susceptible to fungal infection, and many fungal species produce mycotoxins that can impact human and animal health. Many countries that import grain have limits on the amount of mycotoxins considered acceptable in oats and other grains.

Out of the 26 mycotoxins analyzed, 7 were not detected. Mycotoxins produced by the fungal species Fusarium graminearum, such as DON and the newly-reported culmorin, were amongst those found the most frequently.

Each part of the grain handling chain, from the farm to export, has a role to play in ensuring Canadian grain meets Canada’s high standards for food safety. Mycotoxin concentrations in harvest samples varied amongst harvest years and locations, but all delivery and train samples analyzed were below international limits for DON. This suggests that management during handling, and the bulk handling system of western Canada, is preventing high concentrations from occurring in the grain handling chain.


“Previous work on oats was very limited in scope; work focused on one year, or a very limited growing area. Through our Harvest Sample Program and close collaboration with the Prairie Oat Growers Association, grain handlers and millers, we were able to obtain a much broader view of the state of mycotoxins in western Canadian oats.”

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. et al. Mycotoxin Research (2019).

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