The East Africa Community (EAC), with support from USAID/East Africa, has launched a three-year program to better understand and lower the risks of aflatoxin in the region.
Aflatoxin is a toxin created by a naturally occurring fungus, Aspergillus flavus, commonly found in soils and on grain, legumes and other foods.
The new program is designed to better understand the impact of aflatoxin on health, agriculture, and trade; raise consumer and producer awareness of the issue; investigate methods to control aflatoxin in East Africa; and create policies and programs to improve nutrition.
USAID/East Africa Mission Director, Jeffrey Ashley helped launch the EAC aflatoxin program.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 25 percent of world food crops contain aflatoxin. Countries within 40 degrees north to 40 degrees south of the equator, including the EAC and other African countries, are most at risk. Over the long term, eating foods with high levels of aflatoxin can cause stunting in children and liver cancer in adults. Ingesting a large quantity at one time can cause sickness and even death.
Aflatoxin even affects trade and economic growth. Since food from EAC countries often contains unsafe levels of aflatoxin, it cannot be exported into global markets, causing loss of export revenue.
See more stories:
- Aflatoxins believed to be new threat to farm crop exports: http://www.dailynews.co.tz/index.php/local-news/10548-aflatoxins-believed-to-be-new-threat-to-farm-crop-exports, Daily News Online, Tanzania, October 15, 2012
- Beware of tainted maize: http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/editorial-analysis/19-editorial-comments/26455-beware-of-tainted-maize.html, The Citizen, Tanzania, October 11, 2012
- EAC to unveil food safety programme: http://www.trademarkea.com/eac-to-unveil-food-safety-programme, Trade Mark, East Africa, October 12, 2012
- EAC, USAID Launch US$3 Million Aflatoxin Control and Improved Nutrition Program: http://www.eac.int/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1129:eac-usaid-launch-us3million-aflatoxin-control-and-improved-nutrition-program&c, EAC website press releases, October 12, 2012