Types of aflatoxin

Hundreds of fungal species from > 12 fungal genera produce > 300 identified mycotoxins which can pose a threat to the health of at least some mammalian species. Of these myco-toxins, the aflatoxins are the greatest known concern because they are both highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin produced by three fungal species: Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus nominus, of which A. flavus is the most common. These fungi occur principally in soil and decaying vegetation. There are four main types of aflatoxin: Bb B2, Gj, G2, and two additional minor ones, Mi and M2, usually associated with milk. Aflatoxin B1 is the most common member of this family of mycotoxins and has extremely high carcinogenic potency. All countries with mycotoxin regulations in 2003 have at least regulatory limits for aflatoxin B1 or for the sum of aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2 in foods and/or feeds (FAO, 2004). It is unlikely that commodities will contain aflatoxins B2, G1 or G2 and not aflatoxin B1 (Yabe and Nakajima, 2004), and the sum of af-latoxins B2, G1 and G2 generally is less than that of aflatoxin B1 alone.

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