Info

Doko et al., 1996

Zambia

Maize

70-1,200

Doko et al., 1996

Zimbabwe

Maize

55-2,700

Doko et al., 1996

Although several fumonisins have been reported to occur naturally, fumonisin Bi is the major one found in maize and maize-based foods. Most work on the occurrence of fumonisins in Africa has been done in South Africa, where the fumonisins were first isolated and characterized (Gelderblom et al., 1988). However, there are several reports of fumonisin contamination of maize and other food products from several countries in Southern and Eastern Africa (Table 2). In a limited survey of cereal and cereal-based food commodities from Eastern and Southern Africa, fumonisins were detected in 93% of the maize samples at levels ranging from 20-2,700 ^g/g (Doko et al., 1996).

Fumonisins have cancer-promoting activity in rats and may play an important role in human carcinogenesis. In the Transkei region of South Africa, where maize is a staple human food, consumption of fumonisin-contaminated maize is linked to esophageal cancer (Sydenham et al., 1990). In maize being used primarily to brew beer, the fumonisin B1 levels could exceed 100,000 ng/g. Fumonisins also have been associated with neural tube defects and other birth defects among populations consuming fumonisin-contaminated maize (Marasas et al., 2004). Maize consumed as such or in its different processed forms remains a staple food for people in Eastern and Southern Africa and the prevalence of fumonisins in these commodities should be a major concern for these consumers.

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