Some fungi generate a highly toxic substance, aflatoxin. The effects of this substance in the body can lead to different types of cancer, especially in the liver. There are more than 400 types of aflatoxins, of which 15 are especially toxic. All are included in the category of mycotoxins ( mycology is the discipline that studies fungi). What is Aflatoxin?
Its effects on human and animal health
These mycotoxins have a potentially carcinogenic molecular structure . The fungi that activate this substance are basically two: Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Both are present in some foods, such as nuts, fruits, corn and wheat. The toxicity of aflatoxins is activated when they combine with the body’s proteins. To reduce the toxicity of these foods, health authorities generally impose some sort of standard (for example, in some countries, a maximum of 20 micrograms of aflatoxins are allowed to be present in foods).
Aflatoxins are directly related to some diseases of the kidneys and digestive system. On the other hand, they cause liver tumors and sometimes trigger cancerous processes. The main symptoms associated with these pathologies are: abdominal pain, vomiting, fever and anorexia. What is Aflatoxin?
The feed consumed by animals can also be affected by these mycotoxins. Insect attack and food temperature conditions are the two main causes that endanger animals.
How can it be prevented?
The storage of food must be done correctly (for example, it is preferable not to use barns and it is advisable to store food in dry places).
Farmers must control the levels of aflatoxin in feed and as soon as they detect its presence it is important to communicate with the health authorities.
It is advisable for farmers to prepare the farmland using seeds treated with hygienic guarantees. In the sowing process , excessive heat must be avoided, as this circumstance is potentially harmful to crops.
On the other hand, weeds must be kept under control and it is important to reduce insect damage as much as possible. Finally, it is advisable to carry out the collection when the humidity is below 15% and to carry out cultivation rotations periodically. What is Aflatoxin?
Feed storage and transport systems must also comply with certain sanitary guarantees (eg periodic disinfection of facilities and a check of loading systems). What is Aflatoxin?