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Peanuts, Aflatoxins and Undernutrition in Children in Sub-Saharan Africa

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria 0183, South Africa
Mycotoxicology and Chemoprevention Research Group, Institute of Biomedical and Microbial Biotechnology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town 7535, South Africa
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria 0183, South Africa
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2017, 9(12), 1287;
Received: 8 September 2017 / Revised: 23 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 November 2017 / Published: 26 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nut Consumption for Human Health)
Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) is an important and affordable source of protein in most of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and a popular commodity and raw material for peanut butter, paste and cooking oil. It is a popular ingredient for foods used at the point of weaning infants from mother’s milk. It is at this critical point that childhood undernutrition occurs and the condition manifests as stunting, wasting and growth restriction and accounts for nearly half of all deaths in children under five years of age in SSA. Undernutrition is multi-factorial but weaning foods contaminated with microbiological agents (bacteria and fungi) and natural toxins have been shown to play a big part. While peanuts may provide good nutrition, they are also highly prone to contamination with mycotoxigenic fungi. The high nutritive value of peanuts makes them a perfect substrate for fungal growth and potential aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxins are highly carcinogenic and mutagenic mycotoxins. This article reviews the nutritional value and aflatoxin contamination of peanuts, the role they play in the development of childhood malnutrition (including the different theories of aetiology) and immunological problems in children. We also discuss the control strategies that have been explored and advocacy work currently taking shape in Africa to create more awareness of aflatoxins and thus combat their occurrence with the goal of reducing exposure and enhancing trade and food safety. View Full-Text
Keywords: aflatoxins; malnutrition; peanuts; food safety; weaning foods aflatoxins; malnutrition; peanuts; food safety; weaning foods
MDPI and ACS Style

Mupunga, I.; Mngqawa, P.; Katerere, D.R. Peanuts, Aflatoxins and Undernutrition in Children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nutrients 2017, 9, 1287.

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