On 22 August 2013, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa hub at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and ILRI’s Food Safety and Zoonoses program hosted a half-day seminar on the current status on aflatoxin research and management at ILRI.
The open forum was an opportunity for different working groups to engage in discussions on the ongoing and planned research projects. The seminar brought together some 30 participants and a total of 13 presentations were given on aflatoxin assessment, diagnostics, analysis and mitigation.
Aflatoxins are highly toxic metabolites produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus and known to cause suppression of the immune system, liver disease and death in both humans and animals.
Aspergillus can grow in a wide range of foods and feed and thrive under favourable growth conditions of high temperature and moisture content. Aflatoxins from contaminated animal feed can end up in milk.
Three research studies that are part of the project Measuring and mitigating the risk of mycotoxins in maize and dairy products for poor consumers in Kenya (MyDairy project) were featured during the seminar.
The goal of the MyDairy project – the fifth of seven work packages of the FoodAfrica program – is to reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination of staple crops in Kenya.
ILRI graduate fellow Anima Sirma presented an overview of her planned PhD research on risk assessment of aflatoxins in the Kenyan dairy value chain. The objectives of the study are to characterize the key risks of aflatoxins, identify the best control options and provide risk managers with information for decision-making.
Daniel Senerwa, another ILRI graduate fellow working towards a PhD, presented his proposed research that seeks to quantify the economic costs of aflatoxins in the Kenyan dairy value chain and examine the cost effectiveness of mitigation strategies.
Sirma and Senerwa are veterinary scientists and are undertaking their PhD studies at the University of Nairobi’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences.
Sara Ahlberg, a dairy technologist from Finland and ILRI associate research officer, presented an overview of her work on a novel biological method to mitigate aflatoxin-induced risks in food and feed with dairy-derived proteins and peptides and lactic acid bacteria that have the ability to bind aflatoxins or inhibit the growth of mycotoxin-producing moulds.