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Aflatoxin content in cereal-legume blends on the Ghanaian market far exceeds the permissible limit

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Cereals and legumes, the main ingredients used in the preparation of complementary foods in Ghana, have been associated with aflatoxin contamination. This study aimed to determine aflatoxin contamination levels in cereal-based complementary foods on the Ghanaian market. A cross-sectional survey design over a two-week period was used to sample 48 commercial complementary food brands on an as available-basis from supermarkets or mini-marts in all 10 regions of Ghana. A tablet-assisted aflatoxin mobile Assay (mReader) that uses Reveal Q+ test strips (Neogen Corporation) was used to quantify the level of aflatoxin in the samples. All samples were contaminated with aflatoxin. Concentrations in cereal-legume blends ranged from 1 to 1094 ppb while those in cereal-only samples ranged from 1 to 11.7 ppb. The lowest aflatoxin concentrations were recorded in samples from the Upper East region with a mean of 1.5 ppb (1 to 3.8 ppb) while the highest were in samples from the Central region with a mean concentration of 457 ppb (6.6–1094 ppb). Aflatoxin concentrations in approximately a third of the infant formulations sampled exceeded the acceptable standard of 20 ppb, some by a factor of over 5 (100 ppb), and may contribute to the perennial malnutrition (stunting and iron deficiency) prevalent among children in Ghana.

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The authors wish to acknowledge IFPRI for the provision of equipment for aflatoxin tests. Author Francis Kweku Amagloh (PhD) provided money for the purchase of the samples in all 10 regions of the study.

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Correspondence to Francis Kweku Amagloh.

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Opoku, N., Achaglinkame, M.A. & Amagloh, F.K. Aflatoxin content in cereal-legume blends on the Ghanaian market far exceeds the permissible limit. Food Sec. 10, 1539–1545 (2018).

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