Mycotoxins and Your Meal 2

2. Ochratoxin A

Ochratoxins are a group of chemically related mycotoxins commonly found in diverse food items like grains, coffee, cocoa, tubers, dried fruits, wine, beer and animal based meals meals As mycotoxins they are poisons produced by moulds on food, particularly in unhygienic regime. Ochratoxin A or OTA is the most important and toxic member of the family. OTA was first, in 1965 isolated from Aspergillus ochraceus, a fungus. However, as a result of contemporary advances in molecular studies, this fungus from which OTA was originally isolated was later identified as Aspergillus westerdjikiae. That was in the year 2004. Another fungal species known to produce OTA is Penicillium. The importance of this mycotoxin lies in its impact on health and export. And like most mycotoxins, OTA is associated with climatic and economic challenge. Exposure to dietary OTA in animal may result in ochratoxicosis, expressing as cancer of the kidney. In fact it has been classified as group 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC , meaning that it is a possible carcinogen for humans .The IARC is an arm of the WHO.

The FAO/Who publication of 2001 revealed that the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) established a provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) of 100 ng/kg body weight based on the lower amount of the toxin that caused adverse effects to swine kidneys . J L Schaler has reported that male and female Fischer rats given oral doses of OTA had dose- related increase in kidney tumors: renal-cell adenomas, and renal-cell adeno-carcinomas. With metastasis of the renal cell tumors. It also has an adverse effect on the the body weight, feed intake, and feed conversion in broiler chicken

Humans: Balkan endemic neuropathy (BEN) associated with OTA occurs in countries like Bulgaria, Croatia, Turkey, Egypt, and Yugoslavia where OTA is relatively high in the diet. Individuals with BEN were surveyed for the presence of urinary tract tumors. The incidence of tumors in the urinary system was elevated in both men and women. The poison damages the foetus and the DNA The major source of OTA in the diet in Europe are cereals and wine. Coffee was thought to be important in this respect, but is now considered less significant. Researchers in a few Nigerian Universities and at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria have worked on the incidence of ochratoxin on coffee

Like all mycotoxins, setting of standard that are allowable in meals is based on toxicological, occurrence, distribution and epidemiological data . Some European countries have set limits ranging from 2-10 microgram per kilogram in cereals ,roasted coffee, wine and grape juice. Although Nigeria now adopts EU standards for available regulated mycotoxins, enforcement on OTA limits in food and feed are fairly lax . The Standards Organization of Nigeria is saddled with setting and monitoring standards . However this mandate is expected to be carried out in complimentary ways with the efforts of the NAFDAC, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, and Consumer Protection Council. On the global scale, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), promote greater harmonization and transparency in the establishment of food regulations that protect the consumer and facilitate trade.

It is relatively heat stable and so can survive cooking processes. Processing like roasting and baking may lead to a slight reduction in levels. On the field, ensuring that crops are harvested at a safe moisture level is a sure preventive measure. Safe moisture prevents mould growth and so OTA production. Rapid and effective drying, ruling out insect invasion and avoidance of damage resulting in wounds as well as physical separation are also effective postharvest strategies

Get involved. Please make your comment……. and contributions

Dele Fapohunda


Mycotoxins and Your Meal

1 Aflatoxins

As humanity grows on daily basis, there is another group of small creatures called fungi, which are ubiquitous and most of which cannot be seen with unaided eyes. The Nigerian climate support the growth of this group and the subsequent production of chemicals on food items in farm, transit and store. These chemicals are toxic and are referred to as fungal toxins or mycotoxins. These toxic chemical s are found as contaminants of many items including maize, wheat, beans, groundnut, milk and milk products, yam, cassava. It is instructive that toxin production is predicated on mould growth. Nearly a quarter of the global crops are affected by them and their consumption as dietary chemicals by man and livestock incites a range of morbidities and on few occasions, mortality. Four divisions are very important because of their potency and increased research attention and, therefore health and international trade impacts. These are aflatoxins, ochratoxins, patulin and trichothecenes . Let’s start with the first one aflatoxins. This is a group that harbours the only known toxin of biological origin that has been so recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC. In the late 80s the Agency that serves as a technical arm of the WHO, officially placed aflatoxin B1 on the list of Type A carcinogen. The interpretation of this classification is that aflatoxin can incite cancer in human. Indeed cases of aflatoxin-induced liver cancer and immune suppression have been reported in livestock and man. High temperature, humidity and economic challenge all combine to present a formidable predisposing package. The producing fungus, Aspergillus flavus , is very common in Nigerian soil. On stale food items, it occurs as green coating , with the toxin representing a product of its secondary metabolism. This metabolite, which is colourless , odourless and tasteless, comes as B and G both representing the dietary forms and M being the one found in milk. Washing of the mouldy crop food will not remove the already secreted contaminating poison. It is heat stable so all forms of boiling may not provide any intervention. The temperature adequate to destroy it is equally sufficient the food item, so there will not be any net gain using heat to treat aflatoxin-contaminated food item. National , Continental and global bodies have been formed to address arising alimentary and export concerns.

The Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria , Partnership for Aflatoxin   Control in Africa , PACA and the International Society for Mycotoxicology are various initiatives put in place to recommend and possibly implement interventions. At present, The MSN has its secretariat at NAFDAC, Lagos where it attends to public enquiries from the food and livestock industries.

As you read this know that you have a role to play in achieving health through wholesome ‘mealing’ Please tell your neighbour……. and even your enemy !!!!!

Dele Fapohunda


Lessons from Ekiti election

That Fayose has won Ekiti governorship election is no longer in doubt. Even the incumbent Fayemi has admitted that. Now lets review  afew  lessons

1    Articles in Newspapers don’t win elections, the Politian himself does. Otherwise with the regular columns in a newspaper s openly sympathetic to the Fayemi, it would have a walkover. But the writers forget that the last time such outing was made in National Concord, everybody knew that the Concord did not win for Abiola, Abiola won for himself. Having  an ability to cut through barriers, religious and ethnic with a knife-in -butter ease, kit was clear MKO was indeed the one to beat.. Therefore for the Presidential election still coming in 2015, more of attacks on the President should be done on pages of newspapers, because it may not yield the desired result. Let each candidate come out and identify with the jobless, the hopeless, and the  frustrated.

2     Activism is different from political astuteness. This is why  the Nobel laureate may not win an election in his place of birth even when it is clear that he has all the ideas. When Fayemi focussed on the elderly by giving them monthly stipends, Fayose aligned with youth who are unemployed and promised the gainful employment. Whether the promise is achievable is a topic  for  another   day. Remember, the elderly are few in n umber and had no capacity to mobilise due to obvious old age, while the youth are more in number and having the energy to  move and mobilize. Again, sometimes reality   and hard facts can be counterproductive when communicated to the hungry. Ekiti is a state of teachers and civil servants. It is the height of political foolishness to denial them the simple rights they used to enjoy. Panicky appeasing measures , few days to   election would not fly.. Another bitter issue in the south west is the belief that all contracts awarded in Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Edo are been vetted and captured by a man in Bourdillon. The residents of these states which are collectively poorer than Lagos expected rightly that these contracts belong to them. This                 ‘Ajel e syndrome ‘  is another sour point  which is critical to the election in Osun coming in few days time.

Corruption and terrorism in Nigeria

Faces of corruption

 Over the years, illegal imports of items including arms have been going on with govt officials turning away  their  eyes. The direct  result is what we are now witnessing—-thuggery, robberies, Book Haram, kidnappings

The youth of the country with no  means of livelihood are no results to  crime, some cool eg cyber others violent eg robberies. Also there have been cases of unresolved family violence between father and son, mother and son and husband and wife


All unemployed youth should register and  get  employed  as state intelligence network officer. At the same time, all illegal small arms should be turned in within a deadline after which holders become liable to prosecution . People who give credible information on corruption and arms should be rewarded with promotions and appointments not cash.  Elected offices should provide such employment  to the youth as they would give their own children.

Aturu dies at 49

Human rights lawyer Ondo state born Bamidele  Aturu died on Wednesday 9 2014,  at the age of 49. Mr Aturu attended Adeyemi College of Education , Ondo after which he proceeded to the mandatory NYSC where he hit the limelight by rejecting an award . His activism  at Ondo  resulted in brushes with authorities. He proceeded to read law at the Obafemi  Awolowo University, Ile Ife. It was a profession he thought could give him the latitude to fight for the people and air his views on contemporary issues at all times. A few weeks ago , he hosted the Lagos branch of Adeyemi College of Education old students association at his office at Cement bus stop off Lagos Abeokuta expressway.

May his soul rest in peace

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