Volume 76 (2014) Issue 6 Pages 789-797
Mycotoxins are fungal secondary metabolites that contaminate various feedstuffs and agricultural crops. The contamination of food by mycotoxins can occur before production, during storage, processing, transportation or marketing of the food products. High temperature, moisture content and water activity are among the predisposing factors that facilitate the production of mycotoxins in food. Aflatoxins, ochratoxins, fumonisins, deoxynivalenol and zearalenone are all considered the major mycotoxins produced in food and feedstuffs. In Africa, mycotoxin contamination is considered to be a major problem with implications that affect human and animal health and economy. Aflatoxin-related hepatic diseases are reported in many African countries. Ochratoxin and fumonisin toxicity in humans and animals is widespread in Africa. The available, updated information on the incidence of mycotoxin contamination, decontamination and its public health importance in Africa is lacking. The aim of this review is to highlight, update and discuss the available information on the incidence of mycotoxins in African countries. The public health implications and the recommended strategies for control of mycotoxins in food and agricultural crops are also discussed.