Known as a family of toxins produced by certain fungi, aflatoxins have been established to be highly harmful to human beings.
Of late they have also been linked to the high cases of cancer. The best-known one is Aspergillus flavus, that attacks crops such as maize, pulses and groundnuts while in the field and in storage when they are not dried and stored properly.
Aflatoxins also lower the body’s immunity and cause permanent and irreversible stunting in children. And in cases of acute poisoning, they can lead to instant death. But in cases of long-time exposure, they are known to provoke liver cancer.
A study conducted in February this year by James Kibugu, of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) and four others shows that these poisonous chemicals are becoming a major burden on Kenya’s health care system.
But Kenya could reduce the cancer burden if food safety standards are strictly enforced.
Kibugu’s paper published in the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development notes that common cereals like maize and wheat have total aflatoxin levels higher than Kenyan, USA, and EU standards.