Aflatoxin regulations

Several International and Regional groups as well as individual countries have established standards for aflatoxins and other mycotoxins in some cases. The European Union has established separate maximum permissible limits for aflatoxins in food products for direct consumption and those to be sorted or physically treated before consumption. For example, the maximum permissible limit for maize and maize products intended for direct consumption is 2 ng/g of aflatoxin Bi and 4 ng/g for total aflatoxins. Maize and maize products to be sorted or physically treated before consumption have a maximum limit of 5 ng/g of aflatoxin Bi and 10 ng/g for total aflatoxins. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States also has set an action level of 20 ng/g for all human foods except milk, which is lower.

Based on the data presented above, some foods in the West and Central African countries contain mycotoxins, and certainly aflatoxins at levels well above the internationally recommended maximum limits. Only eight African countries had regulatory limits for aflatoxins in foods in a 1994/1995 worldwide survey of mycotoxin regulations (FAO, 1997), with the number increasing to 15 in a 2003 study (FAO, 2004). Countries such as The Gambia and Benin have taken steps to address aflatoxin contamination problems, but even in countries with regulations, food that does not move through formal marketing channels, e.g., almost all food sold in local markets, is effectively unregulated.

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