This review aims to update the main aspects of aflatoxin production, occurrence and incidence in selected countries, and associated aflatoxicosis outbreaks. Means to reduce aflatoxin incidence in crops were also presented, with an emphasis on the environmentally-friendly technology using atoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus
. Aflatoxins are unavoidable widespread natural contaminants of foods and feeds with serious impacts on health, agricultural and livestock productivity, and food safety. They are secondary metabolites produced by Aspergillus
species distributed on three main sections of the genus (section Flavi
, section Ochraceorosei
, and section Nidulantes
). Poor economic status of a country exacerbates the risk and the extent of crop contamination due to faulty storage conditions that are usually suitable for mold growth and mycotoxin production: temperature of 22 to 29 °C and water activity of 0.90 to 0.99. This situation paralleled the prevalence of high liver cancer and the occasional acute aflatoxicosis episodes that have been associated with these regions. Risk assessment studies revealed that Southeast Asian (SEA) and Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries remain at high risk and that, apart from the regulatory standards revision to be more restrictive, other actions to prevent or decontaminate crops are to be taken for adequate public health protection. Indeed, a review of publications on the incidence of aflatoxins in selected foods and feeds from countries whose crops are classically known for their highest contamination with aflatoxins, reveals that despite the intensive efforts made to reduce such an incidence, there has been no clear tendency, with the possible exception of South Africa, towards sustained improvements. Nonetheless, a global risk assessment of the new situation regarding crop contamination with aflatoxins by international organizations with the required expertise is suggested to appraise where we stand presently.
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