Search Results for 'aflatoxins'


Aflatoxin-contaminated groundnut kernels

Aflatoxin-contaminated groundnut kernels from Mozambique (photo credit: IITA).

A special issue of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND) published in July 2016 and sponsored by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) features 12 peer-reviewed scientific articles on aflatoxins in eastern Africa.

The three broad objectives of the special issue are to understand the health consequences of aflatoxins, characterize the extent of the problem and identify key elements to underpin the way forward to mitigation.

The papers, listed below, are all open access and the PDFs are freely available for download at the AJFAND website.

Editorial
Aflatoxins in East Africa: The importance of getting the full picture (http://hdl.handle.net/10568/76526)

Understanding the health impacts

Extent and location of the problem

  • Aflatoxin B1 occurrence in millet, sorghum and maize from four agro-ecological zones in Kenya (http://hdl.handle.net/10568/76499)
  • Prevalence of aflatoxin in feeds and cow milk from five counties in Kenya (http://hdl.handle.net/10568/76501)
  • Survey of informal milk retailers in Nairobi, Kenya and prevalence of aflatoxin M1 in marketed milk (http://hdl.handle.net/10568/76502)
  • Assessment of pre-harvest aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination of maize in Babati District, Tanzania
  • Aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination of marketed maize and maize bran and maize used as animal feed in northern Tanzania
  • Mapping aflatoxin risk from milk consumption using biophysical and socio-economic data: A case study of Kenya (http://hdl.handle.net/10568/76503)
  • Examining environmental drivers of spatial variability in aflatoxin accumulation in Kenyan maize: Potential utility in risk prediction models

Finding the way forward to mitigation

  • Farmer perception of moulds and mycotoxins within the Kenya dairy value chain: A gendered analysis (http://hdl.handle.net/10568/76495)
  • A review of agricultural aflatoxin management strategies and emerging innovations in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Potential of lactic acid fermentation in reducing aflatoxin B1 in Tanzania maize-based gruel

ILRI news

MilkSamplingForAflatoxins_Enhanced

ILRI graduate fellow Taishi Kayano, from Rakuno Gakuen University, collects milk samples from a Kenya dairy farmer as part of a scoping survey of aflatoxins in the feed-dairy chain in Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Taishi Kayano).

A new paper describes and assesses the strength of a theory of change for how adoption of farm-level technologies and practices for aflatoxin mitigation can help reduce aflatoxin exposure among consumers.

‘Aflatoxins, naturally occurring fungal toxins that contaminate maize and groundnuts and other crops, pose both acute and chronic risks to human health. Aflatoxins are odourless and colourless and impossible to detect accurately without appropriate testing technologies. Both humans and animals are affected, and there is an additional risk of aflatoxin transmission through animal-source foods, especially milk, from animals fed contaminated feed.

‘Consumption of very high levels of aflatoxins can result in acute illness and death. Chronic exposure, which causes the greater human health burden…

View original post 1,188 more words

Working in the maize field in Malawi

Working in the maize field in Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The CGIAR Consortium, made up of 15 research centres, carries out agricultural research to contribute to the global effort to find solutions to the problems of poverty, hunger, food and nutrition insecurity, and environmental degradation.

Although there is still some disconnection between agriculture, health and nutrition, it is recognized that agriculture does indeed have important effects on human health. Aflatoxins, for example, pose significant health risks in tropical and subtropical regions.

Aflatoxins are highly toxic fungal by-products produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus in more than 40 susceptible crops including maize and groundnuts. Aflatoxins cause around 90,000 cases of liver cancer each year and are strongly associated with stunting and immune suppression in children. Aflatoxins in contaminated animal feed not only result in reduced animal productivity, but the toxins can end up in products like milk, meat and eggs, thus presenting a health risk to humans.

A new research paper published in the journal Food Security (20 May 2015) discusses how agricultural research by CGIAR can reduce the health risks from aflatoxin exposure for poor consumers while increasing the opportunities for poor farmers.

The paper, International agricultural research to reduce food risks: case studies on aflatoxins, begins with an overview of the evolution of CGIAR research on food safety and aflatoxins.

It then presents case studies to show how risk-based and market-based approaches as well as crop genetic improvement and biological control can help provide justification for and add value to future CGIAR research on aflatoxins.

In conclusion, the authors present five priority research activities:

  1. Generating evidence on the human and animal health impacts of aflatoxins
  2. Understanding the potential of improved technologies and good agricultural practices to reduce aflatoxin exposure in farm households and communities
  3. Assessing the costs and benefits of proposed strategies on aflatoxin reduction as well as other goals such as income and food security
  4. Assessing how costs and benefits are distributed across men and women in households and across different types of households in communities
  5. Understanding factors that facilitate and constrain adoption of aflatoxin control strategies would also be assessed, with particular emphasis on gender issues, incentives and on the role of health information and communication.

The paper was written by scientists from the following CGIAR centres: the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Citation
Grace D, Mahuku G, Hoffmann V, Atherstone C, Upadhyaya HD and Bandyopadhyay R. 2015. International agricultural research to reduce food risks: case studies on aflatoxins. Food Security 7(3): 569-582.

Aflatoxins are cancer-causing mycotoxins produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus. Aspergillus can grow in a wide range of foods and feed and thrives under favourable conditions of high temperature and moisture content.

Aflatoxin contamination can occur before crops are harvested when temperatures are high, during harvest if wet conditions occur and after harvest if there is insect damage to the stored crop or if moisture levels are high during storage and transportation.

Aflatoxins in contaminated animal feed not only result in reduced animal productivity, but can also end up in milk, meat and eggs, thus presenting a health risk to humans.

The poster below, prepared for the Tropentag 2014  conference, presents an overview of a research project led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) aimed at measuring and mitigating the risk of aflatoxins in the feed-dairy chain in Kenya.

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Aflatoxins: serious threat to food safety and food security, but is it related to livestock?

This week, ILRI staff are participating in the Tropentag 2014 International Conference in Prague (17-19 September 2014). There is also a dedicated ILRI@40 side event on livestock-based options for sustainable food and nutritional security and healthy lives.  See all the posters.

Aflatoxins are highly toxic fungal by-products produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus in grains and other crops. Consumption of very high levels of aflatoxins can cause acute illness and death. Chronic exposure to aflatoxins is linked to liver cancer, especially where hepatitis is prevalent, and this is estimated to cause as many as 26,000 deaths annually in sub-Saharan Africa.

Aflatoxins in contaminated animal feed not only result in reduced animal productivity, but the toxins can end up in products like milk, meat and eggs, thus presenting a health risk to humans. Of these animal-source food products, milk has the greatest risk because relatively large amounts of aflatoxin are carried over and milk is consumed especially by infants.

As part of knowledge exchange on the latest research developments in the area of aflatoxins and food safety, Delia Grace and Johanna Lindahl, food safety researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), presented on aflatoxins, animal health and the safety of animal-source foods at a virtual briefing organized by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, a network of 37 bilateral donors, multilateral agencies and international financing institutions working to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable rural development.

Their presentation began with an overview of aflatoxins and how livestock and fish get exposed to aflatoxins. This was followed by a discussion on the impact of aflatoxins on animal health and production, how aflatoxins in crops move through the food chain to end up in animal-source foods and ways to manage the risk of aflatoxins in animals and animal-source foods.

The need for evidence-based approaches in developing standards for animal feeds was highlighted, as well as the need for risk-based regulation and legislation to provide guidelines on safety issues such as appropriate management of aflatoxin-contaminated feed.

The presentation concluded with a summary of the key messages and policy recommendations, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Watch the recording of the briefing (approx. 34 minutes)

Jump to the question-and-answer session [16:37]

More information on research on aflatoxins and food safety is available in a set of 19 research briefs published in November 2013 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The briefs were co-edited by Laurian Unnevehr of IFPRI and Delia Grace of ILRI.

Read more about ILRI’s research projects on aflatoxins

Below are links to presentations at a  joint CGIAR meeting on aflatoxins held at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Nairobi campus on 21 February 2014

Harvested maize in  Pacassa village, Tete province, Mozambique

Harvested maize in Mozambique. Aflatoxins in maize and other staple crops pose significant public health risks in many developing countries (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

Earlier this week, on Tuesday 5 November 2013, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) launched a set of 19 research briefs on managing aflatoxins for improved food safety.

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring carcinogenic by-products of fungi on grains and other crops like maize and groundnuts. They pose a significant threat to public health in many developing countries and are also a barrier to the growth of domestic and international commercial markets for food and feed.

Acute exposure to high levels of aflatoxins can be fatal while chronic exposure to aflatoxins has been linked to liver cancer and is estimated to cause as many as 26,000 deaths annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Aflatoxins have also been linked to stunted growth in children and immune system disorders.

The set of briefs – Aflatoxins: Finding Solutions for Improved Food Safety – provides different perspectives on aflatoxin risks and solutions. The analyses fall under four broad themes:

  1. what is known about the health risks from aflatoxins;
  2. how to overcome market constraints to improved aflatoxin control by building new market channels and incentives;
  3. what is the international policy context for taking action in developing countries; and
  4. what is the state of research on new aflatoxin control technologies, including new methods for aflatoxin detection, crop breeding, biological control, food storage and handling, and postharvest mitigation.

The briefs are co-edited by Laurian Unnevehr, senior research fellow at IFPRI and theme leader for value chains for enhanced nutrition in the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), and Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and theme leader for agriculture-associated diseases in A4NH.

Access the individual research briefs

Download the full set of research briefs (PDF)

Read more about ILRI’s research projects on aflatoxins:

Maize contaminated with aflatoxin

Maize contaminated with aflatoxin (photo credit: IITA).

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.

Download the seminar report

Women threshing sorghum in Angonia province, Mozambique (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

There are too many issues with using lactic acid bacteria for aflatoxin binding for the practice to be safely promoted, according to a newly published review. The review adds that using aflatoxin binders in human food might even worsen food safety in the longer term.

“Use of binding agents in foods contradicts all the existing principles and regulations set to ensure food safety. If such a method is promoted, the efforts to combat the aflatoxin problem at farm level and throughout the value chain, to eliminate and reduce the contaminants, could be compromised,” the study says.

Aflatoxins continue to be a food safety problem globally, especially in developing regions. A significant amount of effort and resources have been invested to control aflatoxins. However, these efforts have not substantially decreased the prevalence nor the dietary exposure to aflatoxins in developing countries. 

One approach to aflatoxin control is the use of binding agents in foods, and lactic acid bacteria have been studied extensively for this purpose. However, when assessing the results comprehensively and reviewing the practicality and ethics of use, risks are evident and concerns arise. 

The study notes that aflatoxin binding research has approached the issue from a one-component ‘silver bullet’ solution instead of focusing on a comprehensive approach to aflatoxin control that considers good agricultural practices at the farm level and good manufacturing practices during production. 

Promoting increased diversity of diets, particularly of staple crops, may contribute towards reduced exposure to aflatoxins. Additionally, the role of food safety authorities needs to be strengthened to safeguard food quality in both formal and informal markets.

Citation

Ahlberg, S., Randolph, D., Okoth, S. and Lindahl, J. 2019. Aflatoxin binders in foods for human consumption—Can this be promoted safely and ethically? Toxins 11(7): 410.

Selling cooked maize in a market

Selling cooked maize in a market (photo credit: IITA)

The European–African partnership for safe and efficient use of mycotoxin mitigation strategies in sub-Saharan Africa (MycoSafe-South) intends to harness the expertise and infrastructure available in Europe by strengthening the capacity of Southern partners to tackle the problem of mycotoxins and associated food safety issues. The project will identify safe and efficient mitigation strategies to reduce exposure to aflatoxins and fumonisins in Africa.

Objectives

  • To provide options for safe use of aflatoxin- and fumonisin-contaminated food through post-harvest intervention strategies including nixtamalization, dehulling, fermentation and the use of mycotoxin binders or modifiers.
  • To develop intervention strategies to reduce human exposure to aflatoxins through animal products.
  • To facilitate knowledge sharing and best practice through education programs and awareness campaigns to help stakeholders understand mycotoxin-associated health risks.

Start date: 01 September 2018 | End date: 31 August 2021

Partners

  • Ghent University
  • University of Johannesburg
  • University of Nairobi
  • Norwegian Veterinary Institute
  • University of Liège
  • International Livestock Research Institute
  • Biomin Holding GmbH
  • Harbro Ltd.
  • Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa

Funders

  • Federal Science Policy Office, Belgium
  • National Fund for Scientific Research, Belgium
  • Research Council of Norway
  • Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya
  • National Research Foundation, South Africa
  • Biomin Holding GmbH
  • Harbro Ltd.

Contact
Delia Grace Randolph (d.randolph@cgiar.org)

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