Top 10 Questions on Aflatoxin

1: What is Aflatoxin?

Response: Aflatoxins are natural poisons produced when certain mold species ( Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) grow in foods.

2: What types of food are most likely to be contaminated?

Response: Maize, peanuts, dried spices, and tree nuts are the most likely foods to contain aflatoxins, but contaminated feed can also lead livestock products containing aflatoxins

3: Which countries are most affected?

Response: The aflatoxin-producing Aspergillus species grow best in tropical climates

4: At what stage along the food chain does contamination occur?

Response: The Aspergillus fungus can produce aflatoxins during the pre-harvest, harvesting, handling, storage, processing and transport stages of the food chain if conditions are favourable.

5: What are the impacts on human health?

Response: Long-term chronic effects of aflatoxin consumption include liver cancer, immune suppression, and growth impairment. Aflatoxins could contribute to up to 30% of all liver cancer globally.

6: Are there any effects in livestock?

Response: In livestock, aflatoxins can cause weight loss and death. Chickens fed contaminated feed lay 70% less eggs than those on normal diets

7: What are the impacts on trade?

Response: Africa loses an estimated US$670 million in rejected export trade annually due to contamination by aflatoxins

8: Are aflatoxins destroyed during cooking and processing?

Response: Aflatoxins are not entirely destroyed during cooking and processing

9: What are the potential mitigation measures?

Response: i. Biological control and good agricultural practices ii. Dietary diversification iii. Good post-harvest practices iv. Food regulations

10: What is Agriculture in Africa Media and partner organizations doing to promote Africa free from the harmful effects of aflatoxins?

Response: Amplifying knowledge discourse on aflatoxins and working on farmers to improve response mechanisms.

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