Staples such as maize and groundnut are contaminated with levels of AF that far exceed those considered safe by the World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization. These high AF levels were found in 50%-80% of peanut samples from the Northern and Volta Regions of Ghana. AFs cause carcinoma of the liver in a number of animal species and has been associated with hepatocellular carcinoma in humans, especially in people with hepatitis B infection. AFs also act as immunosuppressive agents and increase susceptibility to infectious diseases in animals. However, the health and economic costs from AF contamination have not been examined in Ghana.
Aflatoxin contamination of grains inflicts annual losses of over $750 million in Africa, and is a major economic concern for Ghana. Benin has not been able to export its peanut to Europe because the level of aflatoxin is higher than the mandated European standard.
The maximum limit imposed by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in 1995 was 30 ppb. The European countries have recently imposed a 4 ppb on groundnut and 2 ppb for corn. These limits, imposed on the levels of food contamination, are considered by many in the developing world as technical barriers to trade that are bound to affect trade flows to a level that will aggravate the worsening food security problems existing in the developing world.