Tanzania, IITA unveils new tech to combat aflatoxin

TANZANIA – Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with The U.S. government in partnership and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), have unveiled AflasafeTZ, a technology to reduce aflatoxin contamination in human food and animal feed reports Daily News.

In a statement issued by the US Embassy in Tanzania, the product will help reduce human and livestock health risks and avoid the negative impact of aflatoxins on trade and incomes of smallholder farmers.

The development of the product was also supported by the United States Agency for International Development and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

According to the statement, AflasafeTZ was unveiled following six years of research in the country and has now has been registered by the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute in Tanzania, paving the way for local manufacture and sale.

“AflasafeTZ uses nontoxic strains of the fungus to out-compete and displace those strains that produce aflatoxin, thus reducing aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts by over 80%,” the statement read.

The technology aims at reduction of food and animal feed contamination by the poisonous aflatoxins will make the human food, in particular, safe for consumption and meet standards for export.

Aflatoxins are highly toxic chemicals produced by a common fungus found in soils and crop debris.

The fungus, Aspergillus flavus, attacks maize and groundnut crops in the field, remains on the harvested foods, and can continue to grow and produce aflatoxins in storage.

Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogenic mycotoxin which on acute exposure to the toxin at high levels can cause lethal poisoning leading to death.

Exposure to lower levels of the toxin has been proven to cause lowered immunity and irreversible stunting in children.

Its presence in feed posess a high risk to consumers as it can be passed from livestock fed from aflatoxin contaminated feed down through products such as milk subsequently causing accumulation in consumers.

In the recent past, it has been revealed that Africa is losses about US$670 million annually in exports due to blocked European markets as a resultof aflatoxin contaminated food exports.

Aflatoxin causing fungus, Aspergillus flavus, is mostly soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains contaminating about 40% of food commodities traded locally in the East African Community (EAC) bloc mostly cereals and grains.

The most affected foods include improperly stored chili peppers, corn, cotton seed, millet, peanuts, rice, sesame seeds, sorghum, sunflower seeds, tree nuts, wheat and a variety of spices.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends action levels of aflatoxin in food and feed within 20 to 300 ppb.

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