K. Hell; C. Mutegi; et al
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Abstract: Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites that contaminate agricultural commodities and can cause sickness or death in humans and animals. Risk of mycotoxin contamination of food and feed in Africa is increased due to environmental, agronomic and socio-economic factors. Environmental conditions especially high humidity and temperature favour fungal proliferation. Farming practices in Africa sustain fungal and toxin contamination of food and feed. The socio-economic and food security status of the majority of inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa leaves them little option in choosing good quality products. Several technologies have been tested in Africa to reduce mycotoxin risk. Field management practices
that increase yields may also prevent aflatoxin. They include use of resistant varieties, timely planting, fertilizer application, weed control, insect control and avoiding drought and nutritional stress. Other options to control the toxin causing fungi A. flavus contamination in the field are use of atoxigenic fungi to competitively displace toxigenic fungi, and timely harvest. Post-harvest interventions that reduce mycotoxins are rapid and proper drying, sorting, cleaning, drying, smoking, post harvest insect control, and the use of botanicals or synthetic pesticides as storage protectant. Another approach is to reduce the frequent consumption of ‘high risk’ foods (especially maize and groundnut) by consuming a more varied diet, and diversifying into less risky staples like sorghum and millet. Chemo-preventive measures that can reduce mycotoxin effect include daily consumption of chlorophyllin or oltipraz and by incorporating hydrated sodium calcium alumino-silicates into the diet. Detoxification of aflatoxins is often achieved physically (sorting, physical segregation, flotation etc.), chemically (with calcium hydroxide, ammonia) and microbiologically by incorporating pro-biotics or lactic acid bacteria into the diet. There is need for efficient monitoring and surveillance with cost-effective sampling and analytical methods. Sustaining public education and awareness can help to reduce aflatoxin contamination.