Possibilities for the decrease of aflatoxin contamination in food chain

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Authors: Katalin Frecskáné Csáki, Mária Szeitzné Szabó, Mária Szerleticsné Túri




Aflatoxins are mycotoxins produced by various species of Aspergillus moulds. Aflatoxins are genotoxic carcinogens which are associated with an increased risk of hepatic tumors. Previously, mainly plant products from tropical regions might contain aflatoxin contamination (e.g. peanuts, pistachios, dried fruits, spices) in the Hungarian market. However, owing to the climate change now we also have to expect the presence of aflatoxin contamination in the maize cultivated in Hungary.

When dairy cattle eat aflatoxin B1 contaminated feed, they excrete its metabolite aflatoxin M1 into milk. The only effective way to decrease the aflatoxin content of milk and dairy products is to reduce the aflatoxin contamination of feed. This study reviews the health risk of aflatoxins, suitable methods preventing fungal infection and mycotoxin production during maize cultivation, harvest and storage and the official control measures that ensure the safe food products for public regarding aflatoxin contamination.




Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by mold and are toxic to humans and animals if ingested. Toxicity depends on the comsumed amount. Aflatoxines, produced by Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus nominus fungi, are causing the most serious problems. They were first identified in the early 1960s when unexpectedly more than a hundred thousand turkeys died of serious disease in England. Tests indicated the responsibility of toxin generating fungi, Aspergillus flavus, in feed containing peanut flour [1]. The toxin itself was named after the fungus: A- Aspergillus, FLA- flavus, TOXIN. Several other aflatoxins with a similar chemical structure have been identified since then and named after fluorescent properties marked with capital letters (B=blue, G=green) [2]. Chemical structures of aflatoxines that most frequently appear in foodstuff are shown in Figure 1.


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