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History of Aflatoxin Agent First Studied as a Potential Food Safety Hazard

  • Subject: Science
  • Topic: Food Safety
  • Page 1
  • Words: 503
  • Published: 02 April 2020
  • Downloads: 18
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It was during 1960 when 100, 000 turkeys in England started getting sick and dead, disease was diagnosed as Turkey X disease. It was soon found that it’s not only Turkey but also ducklings and young pheasants were affected and experiencing high mortality rate. Getting into the depth the vector of disease was found to be groundnut imported from Brazil and eventually with an intense effort causative agent was found to be a species of mold called Aspergillus flavus. They further found that hepatotoxic product secretes by mold is a major toxin and hence aflatoxins was brought into the light. Furthermore, finding that aflatoxins were carcinogenic and immunosuppressive caused high concern for their occurrence in human and animal foods and feeds respectively. Year between 1960 and 1975 has been labeled as a “mycotoxin gold rush” because so many chemical prospectors were involved in search of mycotoxins. Slowly it has been discovered that aflatoxin not only occurs due to the bad storage but also food could get contaminated before harvesting and during processing. Major crops such as peanuts, fig, corn, cereals, rice etc. were categorized as high-risk food for this toxin.

The major aflatoxins were classified as B1, B2, G1 and G2 based on their fluorescence activity under ultraviolet light and mobility in thin layer chromatography. Aflatoxin B1 is the most toxic and occurs at the highest level. With high concern of Aflatoxin being carcinogenic, JECFA (Joint FAO/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives) on 1987, at its thirty first meeting evaluated aflatoxin and tried to determine the potential dose. Because of the uncertainty of data, committee could not determine the exposure dose of aflatoxin for liver cancer. On twenty sixth meeting of CCFAC (the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants), 1994 CCFAC asked JEFCA to provide estimates on aflatoxin potency and on response to this request JECFA on their forty-ninth meeting in 1997 withdrawn conclusion regarding aflatoxin risk assessment as follow: –

  • Aflatoxins are considered carcinogenic to human livers and B1 is the most potent one.
  • The potency of aflatoxins in person who carry hepatitis B is high and thus reduction in taking diet which has probability of being contaminated by aflatoxins will reduce the chance of getting liver cancer for such high-risk population.
  • Vaccination against hepatitis B will reduce the risk of liver cancer exposure to aflatoxins.
  • Two different hypothetical standards in regards of dose were studied for aflatoxins contamination one is 10 mg per kilogram and other is 20 mg per kilogram.

Populations with low risk of hepatitis B surface antigen and average low intake of aflatoxins (less than 1 ng per kilogram of body weight per day) are not likely to show major differences in population risks. On other hand populations in which hepatitis B surface antigen is positive and the intake of aflatoxins diet is high would benefit from reductions in aflatoxin intake.

Aflatoxins intake can be reduced by improved farming, proper storage, making standards for feed and food within countries and across the borders.

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History of Aflatoxin Agent First Studied as a Potential Food Safety Hazard. (2020, April 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from
“History of Aflatoxin Agent First Studied as a Potential Food Safety Hazard.” GradesFixer, 02 Apr. 2020,
History of Aflatoxin Agent First Studied as a Potential Food Safety Hazard. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jan. 2022].
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