ten at high levels, in staple foods such as maize, peanuts and other commodities. The widespread occurrence of aflatoxin in Africa and other tropical countries make aflatoxin contamination a major potential hazard to human and animal health, and an important non-tariff barrier to international trade. Environmental conditions in Africa, e.g., high temperatures, high humidity, terminal drought, unseasonable rains during harvest and flash floods, all favor fungal proliferation and the production of mycotoxins. In addition, constraints in resources and infrastructure for food storage, processing and preservation, the lack of adequate regulatory and control systems for monitoring mycotoxin contamination, and the limited availability of food due to war, famine or other natural disasters increase food safety problems.

Since the discovery of the aflatoxins in the 1960s, regulations have been established in many countries, and newer regulations are still being issued to control the level of aflatoxins and other mycotoxins in products meant for consumption by humans or domesticated animals. In most African countries, specific mycotoxin regulations do not exist, and in the 15 African countries where regulations do exist they primarily concern aflatoxins (FAO, 2004). Although all countries recognize the potential threat posed by aflatoxins to human health and trade, this threat has not been addressed due to various socio-economic and political reasons. For example, aflatoxin regulations have limited effects on health protection in African countries, because most farmers grow at most enough crops for their own consumption (Shephard, 2004). The increase in the number of deaths due to consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated food (Azziz-Baumgartner et al., 2005), and in farmers' interest to gain revenue through export of agricultural commodities, however; are creating a demand for better regulation of afla-toxins in food and feed. Numerous African countries lack the capacity and facilities for testing for aflatoxins. Lack of well-equipped laboratories, trained personnel, strict legislation for inspection, surveillance and monitoring, poor communication and information systems, and weak government commitment to the regulation of mycotoxins in food and feed all contribute to the problem. This chapter discusses the problems and opportunities for establishing afla-toxin-testing facilities in Africa with specific examples from Nigeria and Malawi.

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