Introduction

Maize, sorghum and cassava comprise the major components of the human diet in Eastern and Southern Africa. Based on data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the daily maize intake is > 200 g/person/day in Eastern and Southern African countries. The highest daily intakes of 469, 419, and 331 g/person/day have been reported in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe respectively (FAO, 1992). Other crops such as wheat, rice, millet, and peanuts also are eaten, but to a lesser extent. These crops are susceptible to fungal infestation, with Fusarium, Penicillium and Aspergillus being the fungal genera found most commonly on these crops. These fungi can attack the crop while it is still in the field or during storage. Fusarium spp. usually are problematic in the field, whereas Penicillium spp. and Aspergillus spp. usually are more problematic during storage (Miller, 1995). Apart from general food spoilage, fungi growing on foods may produce mycotoxins. Although many mycotoxins are produced by fungi, aflatoxins, fumonisin B1, deoxynivalenol, and zearalenone are the most commonly reported mycotoxins from countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

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