Mycotoxin problem in Africa: Current status, implications to food safety and health and possible management strategies

Institute for Crop Science and Resource Conservation, Section Phytomedicine, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany. <>
International Journal of Food Microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.08). 06/2008; 124(1):1-12. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2008.01.008
Source: PubMed


Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites of fungal origin and contaminate agricultural commodities before or under post-harvest conditions. They are mainly produced by fungi in the Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium genera. When ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, mycotoxins will cause lowered performance, sickness or death on humans and animals. Factors that contribute to mycotoxin contamination of food and feed in Africa include environmental, socio-economic and food production. Environmental conditions especially high humidity and temperatures favour fungal proliferation resulting in contamination of food and feed. The socio-economic status of majority of inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa predisposes them to consumption of mycotoxin contaminated products either directly or at various points in the food chain. The resulting implications include immuno-suppression, impaired growth, various cancers and death depending on the type, period and amount of exposure. A synergistic effect between mycotoxin exposure and some important diseases in the continent such as malaria, kwashiorkor and HIV/AIDS have been suggested. Mycotoxin concerns have grown during the last few decades because of their implications to human and animal health, productivity, economics of their management and trade. This has led to development of maximum tolerated limits for mycotoxins in various countries. Even with the standards in place, the greatest recorded fatal mycotoxin-poisoning outbreak caused by contamination of maize with aflatoxins occurred in Africa in 2004. Pre-harvest practices; time of harvesting; handling of produce during harvesting; moisture levels at harvesting, transportation, marketing and processing; insect damage all contribute to mycotoxin contamination. Possible intervention strategies include good agricultural practices such as early harvesting, proper drying, sanitation, proper storage and insect management among others. Other possible interventions include biological control, chemical control, decontamination, breeding for resistance as well as surveillance and awareness creation. There is need for efficient, cost-effective sampling and analytical methods that can be used for detection analysis of mycotoxins in developing countries.

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    • "These include growing resistant varieties, crop rotation, fertilization, insect management, irrigation, proper drying and removal of damaged kernels. A promising long-term strategy is breeding for resistance (Wagacha & Muthomi, 2008). But so far, high levels of genetic resistance have been difficult to achieve (Clements & White, 2004; Munkvold, 2003a). "
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge on the presence of mycotoxins in Africa is fragmentary, although it can be assumed that both concentrations and prevalence in food commodities is high. The present study focuses on the presence of Fusarium species and their associated mycotoxins in maize from two geographically distant agro ecological systems in Tanzania. In a two-year survey, both Fusarium species and concomitant mycotoxins were surveyed in the Northern highlands (Hanang district) and the Eastern lowlands (Kilosa district). Parallel with this, a questionnaire on agricultural practices in both agro-ecosystems was included in this study. This allowed us to put the presence of the toxigenic Fusarium species and their mycotoxins within a relevant agricultural framework.
    Food Control 01/2016; 59. DOI:10.1016/j.foodcont.2015.05.028 · 2.81 Impact Factor
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    • "e l s e v i e r . c o m / l o c a t e / i j f o o d m i c r o human health (Wagacha and Muthomi, 2008). Important mycotoxins are aflatoxins, fumonisins, ochratoxins, deoxynivalenol, trichothecenes, citrinin, patulin, zearalenone and T-2 toxin (Pitt and Hocking, 2009; Wild and Gong, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Several insects that act as vectors, including houseflies (Musca domestica L.), are often considered to be an important source of fungal contamination in human foods. Houseflies are also involved in the transmission of bacterial pathogens that may pose a serious hazard to human health. Thus, the rural population of South Africa, as typified by that in the Gauteng Province investigated in this study, is at high risk from fungal exposure disseminated by houseflies and it is therefore important to assess the role of flies in contaminating various food commodities. Eighty four samples of houseflies (captured from households and pit toilets) were studied for their potential to carry fungal spores into food commodities. The fungi occurring in samples of raw maize (15) and porridge (19) were also assessed. Fungal isolates were identified based on morphological characteristics by conventional identification methods. Fifteen genera of fungi were isolated and identified, of which Aspergillus, Fusarium, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Moniliella and Mucor were the most prevalent in all three sample types analysed. The incidence rates of fungal contamination per total fungal count isolated in houseflies, maize and porridge were recorded with mean fungal load of 2×10(8) CFU/ml, 1×10(7)CFU/g and 2×10(7)CFU/g respectively. Additionally, A. flavus, A. parasiticus, F. verticillioides, F. proliferatum, P. verrucosum, P. aurantiogriseum and M. suaveolens were the most frequent fungal isolates in houseflies with incidence rate of 34%, 11%, 27%, 21%, 22%, 17% and 32% respectively. F. verticillioides, A. flavus, A. niger and P. oslonii were the most prevalent species contaminating porridge and maize with incidence rate of 23%, 32%, 16% and 28% in maize samples, while incidence rates of 59%, 15% and 29% were recorded in porridge samples with the exception of F. verticillioides. The prevalence of these genera of fungi may pose serious health risks.
    International journal of food microbiology 10/2015; 217. DOI:10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2015.10.028 · 3.08 Impact Factor
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    • "Besides, food legislation that is in line with international requirements (Codex) is lacking in many African countries and the existing food legislation is outdated and inadequate as shown in Table 1, and can be found in various statutes and codes, creating an evitable confusion among food control enforcement agents, producers and distributors and food vendors. These have resulted in insufficient consumer protection against fraudulent practices and contaminated food products, leading to the importation and domestic production of substandard food items (Wagacha and Muthomi 2008; Bankole and Adebanjo 2004; Meng et al. 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: Food production processes have a number of critical control points that influence the quality assurance in production processes. In Ghana, foodborne illnesses reported in hospitals is about 420,000 per year, with an annual death rate estimated at 65,000 costing $ 69 million to the Ghanaian economy. This research therefore assessed the knowledge level of food safety and consumer perception for irradiated food in the greater Accra region. The combination of data obtained from workshops and interviews gave overview of food safety and consumer perception to irradiated food products. Data were analysed with SPSS and to map the mental models of those involved in the workshop, a Vensim software program was used. The survey report showed that even though respondents were told of the sterility assurance level of food irradiation, about 80 percent of them rejected irradiation processing until educated. All respondents have experiences food borne illness before. Majority of the interviewed respondents (85%) express some degree of concern over the safety of the food supply and some are willing to pay 10% premium for irradiated foods. The mental model revealed that demand for safer convenient food emphasised the need for refining food policy and increasing critical control point’s inspection by the standard authorities. This will lead to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and safer foods than it would otherwise be and hence promote public health. It is suggested that there is a need to refine food safety policy to include irradiation processing, which can respond to both domestic and global challenges.
    Global Advanced Research Journal of Agricultural Science 09/2015; · 1.22 Impact Factor
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