Preprint Review Version 3 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Aflatoxins: Production, Structure, Health Issues and Incidence in Southeast Asian and Sub-Saharan African Countries

Version 1 : Received: 26 November 2019 / Approved: 28 November 2019 / Online: 28 November 2019 (03:37:24 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 23 December 2019 / Approved: 24 December 2019 / Online: 24 December 2019 (09:32:38 CET)
Version 3 : Received: 4 January 2020 / Approved: 5 January 2020 / Online: 5 January 2020 (16:44:52 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Benkerroum, N. Chronic and Acute Toxicities of Aflatoxins: Mechanisms of Action. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 423. Benkerroum, N. Chronic and Acute Toxicities of Aflatoxins: Mechanisms of Action. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 423.


This review aimed to update the main aspects of aflatoxin production, occurrence and incidence in selected countries, and associated aflatoxicosis outbreaks. Means to reduce aflatoxin incidence in crops were also presented with an emphasis on the environment-friendly technology using atoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus. Aflatoxins are unavoidable widespread natural contaminants of foods and feeds with serious impact on health, agricultural and livestock productivity, and food safety. They are secondary metabolites produced by Aspergillus species distributed on three main sections of the genus (section Flavi, section Ochraceorosei, and section Nidulantes). Poor economic status of a country exacerbates the risk and the extent of crop contamination due to faulty storage conditions that are usually suitable for mold growth and mycotoxin production: temperature of 22 to 29°C and water activity of 0.90 to 0.99. This situation paralleled the prevalence of high liver cancer and the occasional acute aflatoxicosis episodes that have been associated with these regions. Risk assessment studies revealed that Southeast Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries remain at high risk and that, apart from the regulatory standards revision to be more restrictive, other actions to prevent or decontaminate crops are to be taken for adequate public health protection. Indeed, a review of publications on the incidence of aflatoxins in selected foods and feeds from countries whose crops are classically known for their highest contamination with aflatoxins, reveals that despite the intensive efforts made to reduce such an incidence, there has been no clear tendency, with the possible exception of South Africa, towards sustained improvements. Nonetheless, a global risk assessment of the new situation regarding crop contamination with aflatoxins by international organizations with the required expertise is suggested to appraise where we stand presently.


aflatoxins; incidence; toxicity; risk assessment; biocontrol; atoxigenic A. flavus


Biology and Life Sciences, Immunology and Microbiology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 5 January 2020
Commenter: Noreddine Benkerroum
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: The same text was repeated in two different sections, and was corrected as appropriate. This is a part of previously posted preprint that was divided into two manuscript according to the reviewrs' recommenrdations
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