Mycotoxins are fungal secondary metabolites that may be found in human foods and animal feeds. These compounds belong to families of organic molecules that share no significant properties other than the ability to confer death, disease, and misery on humans and other animals that consume them. Mycotoxins, and the fungi that synthesize them, frequently are detected by discoloration or other symptoms of fungal growth, but insidious contamination where the infected foodstuff appears normal to the eye is a significant problem.
In developed countries, food safety regulatory systems are effective and efficient at identifying contaminated materials and removing them from primary food and feed channels. Rare incidents where animals are killed following consumption of mycotoxincontaminated pet foods make national headlines, and most consumers know neither the names of the toxins nor the consequences of their consumption.