Crop safety: this $2 kit can detect Aflatoxin contamination in just 15 minutes

aflatoxin determination

A simple, rapid test that can detect aflatoxins and costs under $2 has been developed by consortia, including the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), here.

Identifying aflatoxins which contaminate several food products on location can save lives and open export markets for the African and Asian countries. It will be combined with a mobile extraction kit that will be ready in two months.

The simple, non-laboratory based kit will be the first portable cost-effective way for farmers, agro dealers and food processors and other non-technical people to detect aflatoxin contamination instantly, according to a press release from the ICRISAT.

The consortia got funding from the McKnight Foundation and included the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi-NASFAM, Farmers Union Malawi (FUM), Kamuzu Central Hospital and Nkhoma Hospital, Malawi.

The kit was officially launched today by Wilkson Makumba, Director, Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), Lilongwe at ICRISAT-Malawi.

Aflatoxin issue

Aflatoxin is carcinogenic. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 25 per cent of all crops in the world are affected. The WHO recently estimated that in 2010 around 20,000 people died globally from aflatoxin poisoning and an equal number fell ill.

Groundnut, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, chillies, pistachios, cassava and other food products are contaminated by aflatoxin each year. They not only affect human and livestock health but can also the marketability of food products. Many countries reject imports of agricultural products that exceed certain levels of aflatoxin, costing farmers millions of dollars every year.

The test can detect contamination at levels of 10 parts per billion (ppb) in less than 15 minutes. While the competitive Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (cELISA) test, developed in 2000 also by ICRISAT, which has to be done in a laboratory by trained technicians, and other analytical tests can take up to 2 days, the release added.

The compact portable device is based on the lateral flow immunoassay test (popularly known as the strip test like that used to detect glucose in human blood). If aflatoxin is present in the sample, then one pink line appears on the strip, whereas if the sample doesn’t have any aflatoxin, two pink lines will appear.

“The device will contribute to manage and reduce the entry of aflatoxins in the food value chains, improve diagnosis for local and export trade and support the food processing industry to maintain low exposure levels in food products in our local markets as well as for export markets,” said Anitha Seetha, Scientist, ICRISAT, Malawi.

“ICRISAT has been working with smallholder farmers in Africa to combat the aflatoxin problem. This kit will enable rapid and cost-effective deployment by the government and private sector to protect public health and also improve the export prospects for African countries,” said David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.

Extracted from http://goo.gl/4e6rVe

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