Handling practices and aflatoxin contamination of the dry wild edible mushrooms sold in Rushere town council Kiruhura District Western Uganda.
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Aflatoxins are secondary metabolites produced by Aspergillus species of fungus which include Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxin presence in various foods is considered as a health threat across the globe due to their carcinogenic, teratogenic, and growth retardation ability and immunosuppressive effects. The aflatoxin presence in different foods is influenced by several factors including prolonged period of storage, temperature range of 25 to 35°C and moisture contents at adsorption equilibrium with relative humidity of 80% to 100%. More research has been done on aflatoxin contamination in different foods in developed countries. In Uganda minimal research has been done on aflatoxin contamination in the dry wild edible mushrooms. Therefore this study was conducted to assess the handling practices, detect the presence of aflatoxins in the dry wild edible mushrooms sold in Rushere Town Council Kiruhura district. 30 samples of three different wild edible mushroom species were collected from different traders. A questionnaire was used to collect data on the handling practices including nature of the packaging material, storage time and pest infestation among traders in Rushere town council. Thin layer chromatography method was used for detection of aflatoxin in the mushroom samples where 30 samples containing three mushroom species were analysed and 90% tested positive for aflatoxins whereas 10% tested negative for aflatoxins. 80% tested positive for aflatoxin B and only 20% tested negative for aflatoxin B. 73.3% tested positive for aflatoxin G whereas 26.7% tested negative for aflatoxin G. The study found out that 23.3% of the traders packed their mushrooms in intact polyethene bags, 76.7% used polyethene bags that had holes in them. 60% of the traders had their mushrooms free from insect infestation, 40% of the traders had their mushrooms infested with insects. 63.3% of the traders had stored their mushrooms for a period of more than one month while 36.7% had store their mushrooms for a period of ≤ 1 month. The association of aflatoxin contamination in the dry wild edible mushrooms and the related handling practices is a complex web and this study revealed that there was no significant association between the nature of the packaging material evaluating whether the material was intact or had holes and aflatoxin contamination at 95% confidence intervals with the p-value of 0.060 which is greater than 0.05. There was a significant association between the storage time and aflatoxin contamination with the p-value of 0.006 which is less than 0.05. There was also no significant association between pest infestation and aflatoxin status with the p-value of 0.076 which is greater than 0.05. Therefore the local authorities need to work together with the traders to ensure that handling practices are up to the required standard