In Africa, food and feed contamination with aflatoxin, a natural toxin, is a major problem. Much has been elaborated on this topic, but possible solutions often focus on one facet or region and are therefore not always effective or useful in other regions.
This emerges from a literature study by Wageningen University & Research, which was commissioned by the Partnership for Aflatoxin Prevention in Africa (PACA). The researchers propose a holistic approach to the aflatoxin problem in which all aspects need to be brought together.
Obstructing the growth and development of young children
Aflatoxins are a group of natural toxins that can be carcinogenic and seriously hinder the growth and development of young children. They are formed by fungi during the cultivation and storage of food and are found in peanuts, nuts, dried fruits, and grains such as corn. This contamination is widespread in Africa and children are affected by it at a very young age.
In addition to the health aspect, aflatoxin also hinders the development of the agricultural sector and thus the promotion of employment and economic growth.
The dates vary by country
The literature study by the Wageningen researchers shows that the negative effects of aflatoxin on Africa have already been clearly described and that various initiatives exist to solve the problem. What is missing, however, is a broadly effective approach. This is because only a very limited number of African countries have a clear picture of geographic distribution, levels of contamination, health effects, economic consequences, and the cost and effectiveness of aflatoxin risk reduction measures. In addition, the available data on natural toxins vary from country to country and farmers and traders are not always aware of the problem.
A holistic approach is required to properly understand and map all of these different aspects. One of the recommendations in the literature review, coordinated by Wageningen Food Safety Research, concerns collaboration between existing regional and pan-African networks and partnerships dealing with the education and development of skills in the field of (prevention) aflatoxin.
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