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KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICY

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Publication | 2019

Aflatoxigenic fungi and mycotoxins in food: a review

Food contamination is a common phenomenon in the production, distribution and consumption of processed and agricultural commodities all over the world. Food safety is now taking the frontal stage in food production, processing and distribution. This study assessed the presence of aflatoxigenic fungi and mycotoxins in foods, occurrence, control, socio-economic and health implications. This study also gave comprehensive information on the safety and mycological quality of foods as well the effect on the people and economy of various countries. The review revealed the various aflatoxigenic fungi in foods, their distribution in agricultural produce and their effects on reduction in yield and quality with attendant consumer health implications and resulting significant economic losses. In developing countries, majority of the people do not know the inherent dangers of consuming mouldy produce or food contaminated with fungi and moulds with possible contamination by mycotoxigenic fungi because of lack of awareness about the danger involved. In view of this, there is need for general and public education to sensitise the people on the economic and health hazards posed by mycotoxins. Control measures such as good agricultural practices, crop selection, proper washing and cooking practices of food commodities should be emphasized to the people. Regulatory control, fast and effective analyses and detection, good produce handling and storage should be encouraged as this will assist in mitigating the side effects of mycotoxins in foods particularly in the tropical and sub-tropical countries, and in Africa nations where there is enabling environment that promotes fungal growth, shortage of food and drought of modern storage and processing infrastructures.