Mitigation measures to control aflatoxins

22Jun 2019
Devota Mwachang'a
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Mitigation measures to control aflatoxins

THE Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) has called for potential mitigation measures to control food contamination from aflatoxins since the poison has so far affected the health and lives of people in Tanzania, Kenya and some other parts of the world.

TFDA acting director general, Adam Fimbo

World Health Organization (WHO) statistics show that approximately 600 million people worldwide, as well as 1 out of 10 people suffer every year from eating unsafe food. Of the number, 420,000 people die and between them, 125,000 are children under five years.

TFDA acting director general, Adam Fimbo said this when speaking at the two days capacity building seminar for journalists held in Bagamoyo district, Coast region to impart them with knowledge on issues related with food safety.

Fimbo said that aflatoxin contamination occurs in food at any point along the value chain, starting from farm before crops are harvested, during harvest and post-harvest operations such as drying, transportation and storage.

“Unsafe food can cause health effects such as diseases and even death if the patient does not get proper and timely treatment. Many diseases arising from unsafe food are largely affected by low awareness of the community about food safety issues and therefore not taking into account the principles of access to safe food,” said Fimbo.

Crops affected by aflatoxin are cereals including maize, millet, wheat, rice and oil seeds such as nuts, sunflowers and cotton. Others are spices such as pepper, black pepper, curry powder and dried root crops include cassava and sweet potatoes.

The authority’s senior food risk assessment officer Dr Analice Kamala mentioned the types of food that are most likely to be contaminated with aflatoxins as maize, peanuts, dried spices and tree nuts.

It is estimated that 208 million people in Africa depend on maize as a source of food. Out of 22 countries in the world, where maize forms the highest percentage of calorie intake, 16 are in Africa.

Dr Kamala said that in 2016, a total of 68 people in two districts of Chemba and Kondoa in Dodoma region were reported to consume aflatoxin whereby 20 among them died.

In Kenya, 265 people suffered and 125 died due to aflatoxin in 2004.

“The symptoms for people who have eaten contaminated food and a large amount of sulfur include, abdominal pain, vomiting, swelling of the stomach, fever, diarrhea and convulsions which can lead to death.

TFDA director of food safety, Candida Shirima called upon stakeholders in the food value chain to consider safety of food products at all the stages.

TFDA principal food risk analysis officer, Agnes Mneney said food business is the leading business in the global and regional markets.

She said that Tanzania through TFDA is implementing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement to protect public health by regulating importation and distribution of unsafe food into the market.

Country officer for the partnership for aflatoxin Control in African (PACA) Dr Happy Magoha said PACA is coordinating and supporting aflatoxin management across Africa’s health agriculture and trade sectors.

Magoha said PACA is working with countries in implementing its pilot projects on aflatoxin management. The countries are Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria and Gambia.