Aflatoxins are produced by the moulds Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. A. flavus is common in nature and most often found when certain grains are grown under stressful conditions such as drought. This mould is found widely on inadequately dried food and feed grains in subtropical and tropical climates throughout the world. It also occurs in soil, decaying vegetation, and grains undergoing microbiological deterioration and invades all types of organic substrates whenever and wherever conditions are favourable for its growth.
Aflatoxins are recognised as potent carcinogens and immuno-suppressing toxins and have been made subjects of government legislation as well as acting as valuable tools in the study of cancer. They can enter the human and animal dietary system by indirect or direct contamination. Indirect contamination of foods or feeds can occur when an ingredient of a process has previously been contaminated with the toxin producing moulds and although the moulds may be killed or removed during processing, aflatoxins may often remain in the final product.
Aflatoxin management procedures should involve farmers, traders (wholesalers and retailers), processors, and policy makers especially those involved in inspection and regulatory control. However, awareness of aflatoxin and causal factors by all stakeholders is the key in effective management of the problem.
Kaaya, A. Final Technical Report. Appendix 12. Management of Aflatoxins in Cereals, Legumes and Tubers. Training Manual for AT Uganda Training of Trainers. Department of Food Science and Technology, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (2005) 12 pp.