Post-harvest practices and aflatoxin presence in groundnuts from selected households in Alebtong district northern Uganda
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Aflatoxins exposure has had a devastating impact on human and animal health globally; chronic exposure to aflatoxins particularly leads to many health effects such as hepatotoxicity, teratogenicity, immunosuppression and growth retardation. This has led to increased attention on presence of aflatoxins in food stuffs. This is because some foods such as groundnuts, easily favor fungal activity while others do not. Research has also clearly documented aflatoxin presence in other staple foods, however, minimal research has documented the presence of aflatoxins in groundnuts products and how aflatoxins find their way into the groundnuts. This study therefore assessed the post-harvest handling practices of groundnuts and detected aflatoxin presence in groundnut samples from Abako sub-county Alebtong district, Northern Uganda. Post-harvest practices of groundnuts were assessed using key informant interviews that included members of different households and moisture content was determined to assess groundnut drying and storage conditions. The mean moisture content was 5.8473±0.16235% indicating effective drying of groundnuts (reference for proper drying is less than 12.5%). Thin layer chromatography (TLC) method was used to detect for the presence of aflatoxins from a total of sixty four groundnut samples of which 7(10.9375%) tested positive for aflatoxins. In addition aflatoxin G was more predominant than aflatoxin B where (4, 6.25%) of the samples tested positive of AFG and (3, 4.6875%) of the samples were positive for AFB. Therefore, in this study, the percentage contamination of aflatoxins versus the moisture content was low implying that extensive research involving more than one community, seasonal variations (collection of samples during different seasons), should be conducted so as to determine the variations in aflatoxin contamination and seasons and to prevent aflatoxin contamination as the effects are complicated to be treated and are not easily detected using the naked eyes.