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.
News Source: Editor@agricinafrica.com
Farmer Helpline: +233 500 000 996