BACKGROUND: The quality of mink feed and raw ingredients affect health and growth. The objectives of this study were to examine the microbiological quality of ready-to-eat mink feed and its raw ingredients, screen the plant part of the feed for mycotoxins, and determine the hygiene of the production environment in the feed processing facilities. The results of the study are important for identification of critical steps in the feed production and for formulation of recommendations for improvements of production processes to obtain better quality feed. Feed and swab samples were taken at three Danish mink feed producers October 2016 and May 2017, respectively. Viable counts, detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), influenza virus and filamentous fungi were performed together with qualitative chemical analyses for bioactive fungal metabolites and mycotoxins. Swab samples were analyzed for total viable counts.
RESULTS: Viable counts varied between 7.2 × 102 and 9.3 × 107 cfu/g in raw ingredients and between 107 and 109 cfu/cm2 on different surfaces at the feed production facilities. A pork meat product, pork haemoglobin, pork liver and a poultry mix was found positive for MRSA, while monophasic Salmonella [4,5,12:i:-] was detected in a pork meat product. Neither MRSA nor Salmonella was detected in any ready-to-eat feed. Influenza A virus was not detected in any sample. Filamentous fungi were detected in all analysed samples of ready-to-eat feed while dihydro-demethyl-sterigmatocystin was found in almost 50% of all ready-to-eat feed samples and in 80% of the sugar beet pulp. Fumonisins and other Fusarium toxins were found especially in corn gluten meal and extruded barley and wheat.
CONCLUSIONS: Mink feed contained a cocktail of mycotoxins and bacteria, which may not per se cause clinical disease, but may affect organ function and animal performance and well-being.