• December 5th, 2019

The dangers of aflatoxins in food  


Paheja Siririka 


NEUDAMM CAMPUS - The University of Namibia Neudamm Campus recently hosted a lecturer from Dr Pungu Okito from Southern Utah University on aflatoxins.  

Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi, found on agricultural crops such as maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed and tree nuts. The main fungi that produce aflatoxins are Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which are abundant in warm and humid regions of the world; they grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay and grains.   

They are also found in improperly stored staple commodities such as cassava, chilli peppers, corn, cottonseed, millet, peanuts, rice, sesame seeds, sorghum, sunflower seeds, tree nuts, wheat and a variety of spices  
Farmers Forum asked some food science students on what they learned from the lecture on aflatoxins. 

Evaristo Lilungwe  
We have already covered aflatoxins, but this lecture by Dr Okito gave more practical examples of where he detected the specific toxins. He also mentioned that it is found in tropical and subtropical food commodities, especially peanuts, which means we should store peanuts where they will not be attacked by fungus, as aflatoxins are produced by a certain family of fungi.

Tashinga Natasha Tsitsi Mabambe  
I learned that aflatoxins are usually caused by the unusual way of improper storage of cereal such as rice and cassava, and that they are harmful to humans and animals. In children, aflatoxins can cause standard growth and liver damage. The toxin can be found in decaying vegetables like tomatoes. I have realised that aflatoxins are being ignored because people don’t think about them. When they see a mold in their food, they wash it off. I learned that aflatoxins are not easily destroyed.  

Maria Kapembe  
My take home from this presentation is that we are what we eat. Finding out that aflatoxins are one of the heat-resistant toxins means they cannot be destroyed, which is what leads to liver damage.

Matamu Faustinus  
I got to know more about aflatoxins, as they are mostly found in root crops, so it’s our concern to take care of what we eat. I learned a lot from the eye-opening presentation. I wasn’t aware of the lethal nature of aflatoxins. I am going to do more research to establish strategies for awareness among food producers and consumers. 

Fillipus Shalikoshi  
I realised that we should be extra careful of what we eat and what we feed our families. I came to realise that most chicken livers I came across are infected with toxins, yet we still consume them – which is dangerous.  

Kutjiva Tjituri  
I learned a lot about aflatoxins, which is a poisonous carcinogen that is caused by fungi. It is found in food, and it can have dire consequences once consumed. I also learned we are what we eat, and in order to be healthy, we need to eat healthy food. 

Analisa Hatutale  
Aflatoxins are hugely impacting and affecting the whole world, but we must address the issue at home first. Africa is impacted by this and we are not even aware of it. It is more based on the storage of grains. Aflatoxins are associated with liver cancer, which doctors do not seem to be aware of. I want more research to be done and to create awareness among farmers.  

Agnes Shipopyeni Paulus 
What I learned is that what we eat is very important, and we should be careful of what we eat. If you find anything suspicious in your food, don’t eat it. It can be dangerous to your health. We need to focus more on the food we eat and be aware of this heat-resistant toxin.


Staff Reporter
2019-11-12 07:34:54 | 23 days ago

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