General News Fri, 1 Nov 2002

High level of toxin in grains

A research conducted by the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) has revealed that the high levels of toxins in grains and legumes in the country is making such crops unacceptable

on the international market and causing serious health hazards to consumers.

According to the study, whereas Ghana’s average leve of toxins is 100 parts per billion (100ppb), the maximum permissible levels for the toxins by the European Union is 4ppb and 20ppb by the Federal Drugs Agency of the US.

Consequently, the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, and Trade and Industry, in collaboration with stakeholders in maize and legumes, have instituted a 14-member National Aflatoxins Committee to institute measures to reduce the high levels of aflatoxin contamination in maize and other food products in the country.

Inaugurating the board in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, stated that although aflatoxin contamination of food and feed ingredients does not alter the taste of foods prepared from such ingredients, the toxin poses a serious risk to humans and can also reduce livestock productivity. He said most of Ghana’s trading partners, especially the EU, are now enacting regulations to control the levels of aflatoxins in imported food products.


Dr Apraku said the contamination of such grains causes serious losses to the economy of the country, adding that “many commodities, especially peanuts and maize, are rejected by the developed countries because of high levels of aflatoxin contamination.”

In his welcoming address, the Executive Director of the Ghana Standards Board (GSB), Mr Alex O Ntiforo, said studies have revealed that the contamination of food chains with toxins causes hepatitis B and liver cancer, especially among infants.

An aflatoxin expert, Dr Harish Sexina, said the toxins are caused by high moisturising contents of the grains and called on farmers to dry such cereals and grains immediately after harvest.

The members of the Committee include Prof S.G. Ayenor of Nutrition and Food Science Department of the University of Ghana, Dr Kafui Kpodo of the Food Research Institute, Dr Sylvia Annie-Akwetey of Rotary Club, Ghana and Dr Edith Clarke of the Ministry of Health.

Source: .