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Environ Health. 2016 Jan 15;15:5. doi: 10.1186/s12940-016-0087-2.

Risks associated with endotoxins in feed additives produced by fermentation.

Author information

Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Bucksburn, Aberdeen, AB21 9SB, UK.
Universit├Ąt Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Department of Animal Production, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
Brantom Risk Assessment Ltd, Crawley, UK.
Division of Animal Production, Department of Agricultural Technology, School of Agricultural Technology, Food Technology and Nutrition, Alexander Technological Educational Institute (ATEITHE), 57400, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Independent consultant on toxicology, Ladywell, London, UK.
Institute of Animal Physiology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Kosice, Slovakia.


Increasingly, feed additives for livestock, such as amino acids and vitamins, are being produced by Gram-negative bacteria, particularly Escherichia coli. The potential therefore exists for animals, consumers and workers to be exposed to possibly harmful amounts of endotoxin from these products. The aim of this review was to assess the extent of the risk from endotoxins in feed additives and to calculate how such risk can be assessed from the properties of the additive. Livestock are frequently exposed to a relatively high content of endotoxin in the diet: no additional hazard to livestock would be anticipated if the endotoxin concentration of the feed additive falls in the same range as feedstuffs. Consumer exposure will be unaffected by the consumption of food derived from animals receiving endotoxin-containing feed, because the small concentrations of endotoxin absorbed do not accumulate in edible tissues. In contrast, workers processing a dusty additive may be exposed to hazardous amounts of endotoxin even if the endotoxin concentration of the product is low. A calculation method is proposed to compare the potential risk to the worker, based on the dusting potential, the endotoxin concentration and technical guidance of the European Food Safety Authority, with national exposure limits.

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