Risks to human and animal health related to the presence of deoxynivalenol and its acetylated and modified forms in food and feed


Deoxynivalenol, 3-acetyl-deoxynivalenol, 15-acetyl-deoxynivalenol, deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside, exposure, toxicity, human and animal risk assessment
First published in the EFSA Journal
11 September 2017
26 January 2017
Scientific Opinion

Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a mycotoxin primarily produced by Fusarium fungi, occurring predominantly in cereal grains. Following the request of the European Commission, the CONTAM Panel assessed the risk to animal and human health related to DON, 3-acetyl-DON (3-Ac-DON), 15-acetyl-DON (15-Ac-DON) and DON-3-glucoside in food and feed. A total of 27,537, 13,892, 7,270 and 2,266 analytical data for DON, 3-Ac-DON, 15-Ac-DON and DON-3-glucoside, respectively, in food, feed and unprocessed grains collected from 2007 to 2014 were used. For human exposure, grains and grain-based products were main sources, whereas in farm and companion animals, cereal grains, cereal by-products and forage maize contributed most. DON is rapidly absorbed, distributed, and excreted. Since 3-Ac-DON and 15-Ac-DON are largely deacetylated and DON-3-glucoside cleaved in the intestines the same toxic effects as DON can be expected. The TDI of 1 μg/kg bw per day, that was established for DON based on reduced body weight gain in mice, was therefore used as a group-TDI for the sum of DON, 3-Ac-DON, 15-Ac-DON and DON-3-glucoside. In order to assess acute human health risk, epidemiological data from mycotoxicoses were assessed and a group-ARfD of 8 μg/kg bw per eating occasion was calculated. Estimates of acute dietary exposures were below this dose and did not raise a health concern in humans. The estimated mean chronic dietary exposure was above the group-TDI in infants, toddlers and other children, and at high exposure also in adolescents and adults, indicating a potential health concern. Based on estimated mean dietary concentrations in ruminants, poultry, rabbits, dogs and cats, most farmed fish species and horses, adverse effects are not expected. At the high dietary concentrations, there is a potential risk for chronic adverse effects in pigs and fish and for acute adverse effects in cats and farmed mink.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Jan Alexander, Lars Barregård, Margherita Bignami, Beat Brüschweiler, Sandra Ceccatelli, Bruce Cottrill, Michael Dinovi, Lutz Edler, Bettina Grasl-Kraupp, Christer Hogstrand, Laurentius (Ron) Hoogenboom, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Carlo Stefano Nebbia, Isabelle P. Oswald, Annette Petersen, Martin Rose, Alain-Claude Roudot, Tanja Schwerdtle, Christiane Vleminckx, Günter Vollmer and Heather Wallace.
Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
contam [at] efsa.europa.eu
EFSA Journal 2017;15(9):4718 [345 pp.].
Question Number
On request from
European Commission
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