Risks associated with endotoxins in feed additives produced by fermentation

R. John Wallace*, Jürgen Gropp, Noël Dierick, Lucio G. Costa, Giovanna Martelli, Paul G. Brantom, Vasileios Bampidis, Derek W. Renshaw, Lubomir Leng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Health
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

We thank Jordi Tarrés Call, who recorded the discussions and offered advice about procedures, and Nicole Reisinger and Gerd Schatzmayr, who provided valuable information about endotoxins in animal feeds. The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health is funded by the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) of the Scottish Government.


  • endotoxin
  • feed additives
  • lipopolysaccharide
  • worker exposure


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