Aflatoxin in grain in Somalia
Aflatoxin in Somalia Michael Golden 15.08.98
Aflatoxin - glimmer of light possibly Michael Golden 16.08.98
Re: aflatoxin in grain in Somalia Laurie Aomari 20.08.98
Somali grain Maya Pineiro 24.08.98

Date: Sat, 15 Aug 1998 13:17:07 +0100

From: Michael Golden <>

Subject: Ngonut: Aflatoxin in Somalia


This question was posed to a member of the list:


November- 97/ January 1998 we had major floods in Somalia, underground

grain stores were all under water for weeks. Now the crop is failing

and people have started eating what remains out of the partially/

fully spoiled sorghum, visible fungus growth according the field


Simultaneously reports about the increasing number of kwashiorkor

cases are coming from the field. Is it possible that we are dealing

with alfa-toxin induced kwashiorkor?


What could be done, except telling people not to eat

spoilt grain? Not a very practical solution, when you do not have any

much choice. We can only provide for a small number of

clearly malnourished children.


Does anyone have any practical answers to how to best to deal with spoiled

grain (Sorghum mainly)

Does any form of practical field treatment substantially reduce the levels

of aflatoxin and other mycotoxins?


Could members who know of food toxicologists/mycologists who might be able

to offer an opinion, and are not on the list, please pass this message on

so that we can get some authoritative response. Clearly this is urgent and

the correct advice needs to be transmitted to the field in order to prevent

many cases of mycotoxicosis on the one hand or starvation on the other.

This dilemma of whether or not to eat visibly fungus infested food is so

common in much of the world that we would all like to know what to do when

there is no alternative but to eat the food!



Prof. Michael H.N.Golden | INTERNET

Dept of Medicine and Therapeutics | Tel +44 (1224) 681 818 ext 52793/53014

Univ of Aberdeen, Foresterhill | Tel(direct) +44 (1224) 663 123

527 93

AB9 2ZD. Scotland, (UK) | Fax +44 (1224) 699 884

Date: Sun, 16 Aug 1998 14:20:06 +0100

From: Michael Golden <>

Subject: Aflatoxin - glimmer of light possibly


>I forwarded your message to Dr G. Moy, Food Safety, and his reply is as

> follows:


> Aflatoxin is not substantially broken down by heating, but significant

> reductions can be made by hand sorting the visible mouldy particles as

> growth of Apergillus is highly uneven. In corn and peanuts, a uv

> light is used to facilitate sorting. One method which is used for

> detoxification is treatment with ammonia. This is commonly done in

> the some parts of the US, but the process is only approved for animal

> feed. The person who is quite familiar with this process is Dr

> Douglas Park who was with the University of Arizona.

> I hope that this is helpful.


>Kind regards,

>Monika Bloessner

>Programme of Nutrition


Dear Monika,

This is very useful information, although only approved for animal feeds

in countries where there is little problem with human food availability -

this could presumably be adapted to human food in situations where there is

no alternative but to eat the grain. The problem being, I suppose, that if

it is not policed and very strict guidelines put in place then suppliers

may start to use this method when there is a viable alternative and will

use this simply to save money - this is a tricky problem.


Then comes the source of the ammonia for somewhere like Somalia -

depending upon the strength and amount needed - I await the remarks of Dr

Douglas Park with great anticipation. In the old days in the UK,

villagers in Yorkshire were paid for their urine, which was collected each

day from the houses, left to generate ammonia from the urea, and then used

to bleach the wool in the wool industry - that is a truly low tech readily

available solution to the supply of ammonia in a famine situation. Perhaps

some simple experiments with "aged" urine would produce a very low tech

solution that could be applied in the field, at household level, to

detoxify the grain. Followed by cooking, of course to drive off the ammonia

and kill the bacteria.

The problem of aflatoxicosis also arises when we have mouldy milled cereal

or blended food where sorting is not an option: we have often destroyed

supplies rather than distribute them only to find there is no alternative

food to give for months on end - until fresh supplies filter through the

pipe line - and we have had the situation of riots because of the

destruction of food in the face of starvation. In Somalia, since the

harbor was out of action, all food has to be landed by small boat onto the

beach and inevitably gets soaked and then goes mouldy. I think that there

could definitely be a place for the animal-feed solution in SOME carefully

defined human situations.

Again thank you very much - this could have started something that is very

important indeed.




Prof. Michael H.N.Golden | INTERNET

Dept of Medicine and Therapeutics | Tel +44 (1224) 681 818 ext 52793/53014

Univ of Aberdeen, Foresterhill | Tel(direct) +44 (1224) 663 123

527 93

AB9 2ZD. Scotland, (UK) | Fax +44 (1224) 699 884

Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 11:59:56 -0400

From: Laurie Aomari <>

Subject: Ngonut: re: aflatoxin in grain in Somalia

Dear Colleagues:

Below my signature is the reply I received from David Miller about the moldy grain in Somalia. I believe FAO replied directly to the listserve. If not, let me know and I'll post that too.

Best regards,


Laurie Aomari, RD

IVACG Secretariat at ILSI Research Foundation ...................


I am very sorry to hear that the circumstances in Somalia have led to the

molding of grains supplies.

It is entirely possible that there are high levels of toxins in the grain

and there could well be acute toxicoses in these children.

In terms of what to do, the only practical advice is not to eat the visibly

moldy grain. However, it would be good if the most moldy grain was not fed

to children. What I mean is that this could be separated by hand.

I would need more details to suggest other methods of treatment. One possibility is to use mechanical means to separate moldy from non moldy grains.

Please let me know if I can be more helpful.


J. David Miller


Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 10:04:58 -0400

From: Laurie Aomari <>

Subject: Ngonut: Fwd: Somali grain

Dear colleagues:

Attached is a message as follow up to the recent question about moldy grain in Somalia.

For my future reference, please let me know if you cannot access the forwarded message attached.

Best personal regards,


Laurie Aomari, RD

IVACG Secretariat


Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 04:14:58 -0400

From: <>

Subject: Somali grain

Dear Dr. Aomari,

I have been forwarded your recent email on the possible afla-toxin induced kwashiorkor disease in Somalia by David Miller. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United Nations have recently established jointly a

Training and Reference Centre (TRC) for Food and Pesticide Control to deal with food safety and control, including the mycotoxins. The Centre's mission is to provide assistance to Member States and their institutions by training, quality assurance services and technology transfer.

With respect to the Somali contaminated grain, at this point there is very little that can be suggested in addition to separating and sorting

overtly fungal infected grain by visual or UV procedures. An aspect that

might be added is drying of the grain immediately after it is received.

If no facilities are available, spreading thinly the grains on dry areas

such as metal roofs or similar devices could help. Storing the grain is

a crucial part of the problem. There are some inexpensive silos that could be built locally or obtained prefabricated through relief organizations. Even if grain is already contaminated, immediate drying

and adequate storage would at least keep the aflatoxin levels checked and not get worse. There are some web sites on management practices to minimize aflatoxin that might be of use:

" " " Texlab/Methods/cultural.html

Please do not hesitate to write if we can be of help, Dr Maya Pineiro

Food and Environmental Protection Section Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture Wagramer Strasse 5, P.O. Box 100,

A-1400 Vienna, Austria

FAX 43 1 20607

Tel 43 1 2060