FILAMENTOUS FUNGI AND AFLATOXIN CONTAMINATION OF LOCALLY-PROCESSED INFANT FOODS SOLD AT HOSPITALS IN KUMASI: A PILOT STUDY
Background: Infant foods are prepared with varieties of cereals and legumes which provide essential nutrients for healthy growth and immune development. However, infant foods can be contaminated with moulds and mycotoxins, especially aflatoxins which can lead to stunted growth, liver damage, and liver cancer, particularly, in children. This pilot study investigated the contamination of locally-processed infant foods sold at antenatal units of selected hospitals in the Kumasi Metropolis.
Materials and Methods: Twenty-four different food samples were brought from the Hospitals and analyzed for mould and aflatoxin contaminations. Moulds were enumerated and identified using Malt Extract Agar (MEA) while Quechers method and HPLC were used to investigate the presence of aflatoxins in the food samples.
Result: Findings showed that 87.5% of the samples were contaminated with moulds, with 20.8% beyond the tolerable limit for consumption. Genus of moulds identified were Aspergillus (79%) being the most predominant genus followed by Penicillium (37.5%), Alternaria (16.7%), Blastomyces (12.5%) and Curvularia (4.2%). About 91.7% of the samples were contaminated with aflatoxins with 45.8% exceeding the tolerable limit (20ng/g) for consumption. Types of aflatoxin present were aflatoxin B2 (AFB2) being prevalent in the samples, followed by AFB1 then AFG1 and AFG2.
Conclusion: Children and infants fed with these locally-processed foods may be exposed to unacceptable levels of moulds and aflatoxins. Therefore, there is a critical need to educate local food producers and processors of the health implications of contamination and develop innovative ideas to eliminate the exposure of infants from these toxins and moulds.Keywords: Aflatoxin moulds, contamination, locally-processed infant foods