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.

.

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

A typical mixed crop-livestock farming household, western Kenya (ILRI/Charlie Pye-Smith)

The world’s largest publicly-funded agricultural research partnership, CGIAR, is currently developing a series of initiatives to implement its 2030 research and innovation strategy that was launched in early 2021.

The research initiatives are designed to create lasting impact in five key areas:

  • nutrition, health and food security;
  • poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs;
  • gender equality, youth and social inclusion;
  • climate adaptation and mitigation; and
  • environmental health and biodiversity.

One of these research initiatives, Protecting human health through a One Health approach, aims to improve the prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance, foodborne diseases and zoonoses in seven target countries: Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Uganda and Vietnam.

The development of the One Health initiative is being led by a team of scientists from four CGIAR research centres — the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and WorldFish — in collaboration with external research partners from Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire, EcoHealth Alliance and the University of Liverpool.

To ensure alignment of the proposed initiative with national priorities, the team convened a series of online consultative meetings with research collaborators to gain insights on the main One Health priorities, challenges, interventions and partner organizations in the respective countries.

The Kenya meeting, hosted by ILRI, took place on Wednesday 28 July 2021, bringing together some 30 participants from government ministries, universities as well as national and international research organizations.

Dieter Schillinger, ILRI’s deputy director general for biosciences research and development, opened the meeting with a word of welcome and an overview of CGIAR’s 2030 research and innovation strategy that will guide the implementation of the 33 new research initiatives, including that on One Health—the focus of the online consultation.

He mentioned that the development of the One Health research initiative is a collaborative process and ILRI is working closely with other CGIAR research centres as well as external partners from research and academia, including those represented at the meeting. He therefore welcomed feedback and suggestions from the participants to ensure the research of the One Health initiative is relevant and impactful.

Hung Nguyen, co-leader of ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program, followed with an overview of the rationale of the One Health initiative, citing the need for a One Health approach to tackle the complexity of the global public health challenges posed by the rising incidence of antimicrobial resistance, foodborne diseases and zoonoses.

He then outlined the three main objectives of the One Health initiative, namely, to generate evidence for decision-making; evaluate impacts of One Health approaches; and scale up innovations into national policies and programs.

He further highlighted the initiative’s Theory of Change, explaining how the research outputs are expected to lead to specific development outcomes and impact by 2030, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The team estimates that between 4 million and 41 million cases of disease will be averted annually through the initiative’s efforts.

The initiative’s research activities will take place through five work packages:

  • zoonoses;
  • food safety;
  • antimicrobial resistance;
  • environment (water and wildlife interfaces); and
  • economics, governance and behaviour.

The work package leaders presented briefly on the goals of their respective work packages, giving examples of planned innovations under each.

Hung Nguyen explained that the food safety work package aims to reduce the burden of foodborne disease in traditional (informal) food value chains, with a focus on animal-source foods and other perishables such as fruits and vegetables. Planned innovations include training and certification of food handlers and traders, promotion of consumer demand for safe food, and behavioural nudges to encourage safe food handling practices.

Bernard Bett, ILRI senior scientist and head of the ILRI-hosted One Health Centre in Africa, outlined the two main objectives of the zoonoses work package: pre-empting the spread of zoonoses at the wildlife–livestock interface and reducing the incidence of zoonotic pathogens associated with poverty. Among other innovations, the work package plans to map the risk of key endemic zoonoses and develop diagnostic kits for surveillance of zoonoses.

Arshnee Moodley, who heads the ILRI-hosted CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub, said that the antimicrobial resistance work package will focus on reducing the burden of antimicrobial resistance by promoting the prudent use of antimicrobials in crop, fish and livestock production systems. In this regard, surveillance of antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance in animals and animal-source foods is important. Additionally, there is a need to generate and communicate evidence on the costs and benefits of rational use of antimicrobials to support uptake of interventions by farmers and policymakers.

In his overview of the environment work package, Javier Mateo-Sagasta, senior researcher at IWMI, noted that water is a key connector between people, livestock and ecosystems and so the focus will be on improving land use and water management to reduce health risks such as antimicrobial residues and zoonotic pathogens. Approaches will include recovery and reuse of animal waste to prevent water pollution and promotion of good practices to ensure the safe use of marginal quality water.

Vivian Hoffmann, senior research fellow at IFPRI, explained that the goal of the economics, governance and behaviour work package is to understand the drivers of people’s behaviour within food systems and the impact of policies and governance approaches on this behaviour. An example of an innovation under this work package is a performance management system for government officials responsible for implementing surveillance and enforcing regulations on antimicrobial use or food safety. Another innovation is a system to ensure inclusion of small-scale farmers, traders, food vendors and vulnerable groups so that they benefit from One Health outcomes.

During parallel group discussions on the zoonoses, food safety and antimicrobial resistance work packages, the participants gave feedback on the main One Health challenges, priority interventions, actions to ensure inclusion and partner institutions in Kenya.

With regard to control of zoonoses, among the key challenges identified were cross-sectoral coordination among government bodies and lack of adequate funding. Capacity development was noted as an area that needs to be strengthened at all levels. There is also a need to better understand the risks of zoonoses spillover from wildlife to livestock in boundary areas.

The main food safety challenges identified included aflatoxins, chemical contamination and inadequate capacity for effective food inspection. Capacity development was identified as a priority food safety intervention, in addition to strengthening of food safety legal frameworks at national and county levels, increasing consumer awareness and improving water quality and infrastructure.

The discussion on antimicrobial resistance identified the need for evidence on the costs and benefits of reducing antimicrobial use in order to get buy-in from policymakers. Regulation of veterinary drugs is another challenge, as is the enforcement of proper use of antimicrobials. There is a need for consumer education and strengthening of extension and veterinary services.

The use of participatory approaches and tailoring of communication to suit specific target audiences were suggested as some of the ways of ensuring inclusion of small-scale farmers, traders, vendors, women and youth at all levels of the value chain.

The identified partner groups to work with included government ministries of agriculture, health and environment (at national and county levels); national and international research organizations; universities; bureau of standards; farmer/producer groups; women’s groups; consumer organizations and civil-society organizations.

As the meeting ended, Sam Kariuki, acting director general of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, summed up the discussions as having been very engaging and fruitful. He urged the team to focus on practical approaches and leverage on low-cost, effective technologies to ensure that the planned interventions achieve positive impact among farmers on the ground.

‘Think big, but act local,’ he advised.

In his closing remarks, Dieter Schillinger thanked the participants for their contributions and said that the team would build on the ideas discussed and use them to fine-tune the development of the research initiative. He further assured the participants of CGIAR’s continued collaboration with and support of One Health partners in Kenya towards improved human, animal and environment health.

Once approved, the CGIAR One Health initiative will start in January 2022 and run for an initial three years.

For more information, please contact Hung Nguyen (h.nguyen@cgiar.org) or Vivian Hoffmann (v.hoffmann@cgiar.org).

Access the meeting notes and presentation slides

Citation

ILRI, IFPRI, IWMI and WorldFish. 2021. Kenya stakeholder consultation on a proposed CGIAR One Health initiative. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/114650

Photo credit: A typical mixed crop-livestock farming household, western Kenya (ILRI/Charlie Pye-Smith)

Following the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), measures to contain its spread have affected several aspects of the food value chain, including safety. Although COVID-19 is not transmitted through food, poor hygiene and sanitation can enhance its spread.

Scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently led a study to examine the impacts of COVID-19 mitigation measures on food safety in East Africa.

Data were collected in November and December 2020 through telephone and online interviews with 25 food safety experts based in East Africa who had previously worked with ILRI scientists on food safety projects.

The study found that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent control measures, including restriction of movement and dusk-to-dawn curfews, disrupted various food supply chains.

In East Africa, the livestock value chain was most affected, with supplies of meat, dairy and poultry products being disrupted. Also affected were supply chains for fruits, vegetables and fish. The cereals value chain was perceived to be the least affected.

With regard to regulation, market surveillance programs for food safety were disrupted. In addition, concerns were noted on the safety of bulk-purchased food, for example, the risk of aflatoxins or the expiry of food products.

In general, the study observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted food systems in East Africa in terms of access to and safety of food products.

The authors therefore recommend that interventions to address future pandemics consider the possible negative impacts of disease mitigation measures; a One Health approach would facilitate this.

Citation

Mutua, F., Kang’ethe, E. and Grace, D. 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for food safety in East Africa. ILRI Discussion Paper 40. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Photo credit: Fruit and vegetable on sale in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ILRI/Geraldine Klarenberg)