Aflatoxin contamination of foodstuffs: Its health implications in Sub-Sararan Africa | Abstract
Scholars Research Library

Scholars Research Library

A-Z Journals


Annals of Experimental Biology


Aflatoxin contamination of foodstuffs: Its health implications in Sub-Sararan Africa

Author(s): A. A. Iyandaa, J. I. Anetorb, D. P. Oparindea and F.A.A. Adeniyib

Aflatoxins are both toxic and carcinogenic. They are produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Food contamination by these toxins has become a serious health issue. In Africa, some of the factors responsible for it include favorable weather condition; temperature of between 24ºC and 35ºC and moisture level of about 7% in many parts, poverty, ignorance, drought and social problems. Aflatoxin production may occur during harvest, storage and food processing, although pre-harvest food contamination has also been reported. The presence of these toxins modulates the metabolism and status of many important micronutrients such as Zn, Se vitamin A and vitamin E; vital ingredients in maintaining healthy immune system and normal development, making the relationship between aflatoxin contamination of food and immune suppression and stunted growth quite understandable. The association between aflatoxin in food and some of the foremost risk factors (under-weight, Zn, Fe & vitamin A deficiencies) described by World Health Organization to contribute to burden of disease in disability-adjusted life years in Africa makes this problem a probable factor, responsible for the short lifespan prevailing in this region. Some other health implications include delay in recovering from protein malnutrition and hepatocellular carcinoma. Moreover in several nations in the sub-region, HBV (hepatitis B virus) & HCV (hepatitis C virus) affect about 20% of the population, their co-occurrence with aflatoxins have been identified to increase aflatoxin potency by about 30 times and the risk of HBV infection which results in hepatocellular carcinoma from 5 to 60. The objective of this review is to examine the magnitude of this problem by identifying its causes, attending effects and proffer possible intervention strategy which may be of assistance in bringing aflatoxin contamination of food to a tolerable level in the sub-Saharan Africa.