Abstract

Mycotoxins, natural toxic metabolites of fungi produced under favorable conditions on a wide range of foods and feeds are a world-wide problem. The five most important groups of mycotoxins are aflatoxins, fumonisins, ochratoxin A, zearalenone and deoxynivalenol. The weather conditions in most West and Central African countries are favorable for the growth of toxigenic fungi and mycotoxin production. We review mycotoxin contamination of foods from these two sub-regions. Aflatoxins have been detected in maize, peanuts and their products, sorghum, millet and rice, among others, from eight West African countries. Fumonisins were reported in maize and sorghum from six countries, whilst ochratoxin A was detected in foods from Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Zearalenone was reported in maize from Cameroon and Nigeria with only one report of deoxynivalenol available. Limited data are available on mycotoxin contamination of foods in the Central African countries, suggesting an urgent need for increased mycotoxin research activities and surveillance.

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