Submitted to: Aflatoxin and Food Safety
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: March 28, 2005
Publication Date: November 2, 2005
Citation: Shier, W.T., Abbas, H.K., Weaver, M.A., Horn, B.W. 2005. The case for monitoring Aspergillus flavus aflatoxigenicity for food safety assessment in developing countries. Aflatoxin and Food Safety. 14:291-312. Technical Abstract: Aflatoxins represent the most important single mycotoxin-related food safety problem in developed and developing countries, but the two types of countries have major differences in how, when and where aflatoxin production occurs and in how the problem is addressed. In developed countries, aflatoxin levels are monitored post-harvest by relatively expensive immunochemical or instrumental methods. It is assumed the aflatoxin level measured will not change significantly during storage, and because storage conditions in developed countries are often nearly ideal, this assumption is usually valid. However, in humid tropical developing countries, where crops intended for domestic consumption are often stored under far from ideal conditions, additional fungal proliferation and aflatoxin synthesis may occur. In developing countries with alternating dry and rainy seasons, most crop production occurs during the rainy season. Excellent storage conditions are usually present during the following dry season, but dangerous levels of aflatoxin may be produced during the subsequent rainy season before stored crops are consumed and the new crop is ready for harvest. Aflatoxigenic fungal contamination levels, readily assessed by cultural methods, may be the best predictors of susceptibility to aflatoxin production following harvest. Cultural tests have additional advantages in that they are relatively inexpensive and require less technical training to conduct. In developing countries the most heavily contaminated crops could be scheduled for earliest consumption during the dry season before additional aflatoxin production can occur, whereas crops with low levels of aflatoxigenic fungal contamination could be more safely stored for consumption during the subsequent rainy season.