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How can we spot aflatoxin?

Aflatoxin is found in basic staples, especially maize and groundnuts; products like peanut butter that are made from these; and animal products such as milk and eggs. So how easy is it to spot contaminated food?

Aflatoxin is colourless and completely invisible. Sometimes the fungus that produces it shows up as a surface mould, but often there is no visible sign of contamination at all. (However, it is still a good idea to avoid any food that looks mouldy.)

Aflatoxin is odourless, and contaminated food does not have any special or bad smell.


Aflatoxin is tasteless, and even food that is dangerously contaminated does not usually have any off or mouldy taste. (A large amount of fungus can occasionally give a bitter flavour, so food that does taste odd is best avoided.)

In fact, the only way to know if a food contains aflatoxin is by testing it scientifically, in a laboratory or using a special portable kit.

Aflatoxin is an incredibly powerful poison, and is harmful or even deadly at very low concentrations that are measured in parts per billion (ppb). In terms of numbers, that is a bit like looking for a busload of escaped convicts in a crowd containing the entire population of Africa.

Aflatoxin is like a secret agent, expert at passing unnoticed but dangerous and licensed to kill. Aflatoxin does not stand out – so buying food that looks and smells good will not help much – but what we can do is send in the good guys to keep the toxin out, which is where Aflasafe comes in.