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Toxicol Sci. 2013 Sep;135(1):251-9. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kft132. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Global risk assessment of aflatoxins in maize and peanuts: are regulatory standards adequately protective?

Author information

  • 1Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.

Abstract

The aflatoxins are a group of fungal metabolites that contaminate a variety of staple crops, including maize and peanuts, and cause an array of acute and chronic human health effects. Aflatoxin B1 in particular is a potent liver carcinogen, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk is multiplicatively higher for individuals exposed to both aflatoxin and chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV). In this work, we sought to answer the question: do current aflatoxin regulatory standards around the world adequately protect human health? Depending upon the level of protection desired, the answer to this question varies. Currently, most nations have a maximum tolerable level of total aflatoxins in maize and peanuts ranging from 4 to 20ng/g. If the level of protection desired is that aflatoxin exposures would not increase lifetime HCC risk by more than 1 in 100,000 cases in the population, then most current regulatory standards are not adequately protective even if enforced, especially in low-income countries where large amounts of maize and peanuts are consumed and HBV prevalence is high. At the protection level of 1 in 10,000 lifetime HCC cases in the population, however, almost all aflatoxin regulations worldwide are adequately protective, with the exception of several nations in Africa and Latin America.

KEYWORDS:

(3–6) aflatoxin; hepatocellular carcinoma; risk assessment.

PMID:
23761295
PMCID:
PMC3748761
DOI:
10.1093/toxsci/kft132
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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