Fungi and Mycotoxins Associated with Food CoMmodities in Cameroon
Daoudou, I. H.
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Objective: Spoiled maize grains and numerous types of snacks that are consumed in the Western Highlands of Cameroon are infected by several mycotoxin producing fungi. The extent of contamination of these food commodities by secondary metabolites of fungal origin has not been well studied. This study aimed to identify the microorganisms that infect maize grains and snacks sold at road side markets, and to sensitize the population on the health risks that are associated with consumption of contaminated commodities. Methodology and results: Maize and snack samples were collected from various locations in Cameroon. Contaminating microorganisms were isolated and identified using conventional techniques. Staphylococcus and Salmonella species were the most frequently isolated bacteria while Fusarium and Aspergillus species were isolated in highest frequency ranging from 20 to 100 % presence in the samples analysed. Chemical analyses revealed the presence of fumonosins (50-26000 ng g-1), Deoxynivalenol (100-1300 ng g-1) and zearalenon (50-180 ng g-1) in the sampled maize. Conclusion and application of findings: Contamination of agricultural products by microbial toxins is an important but often underestimated risk to public health and can have long-term health implications. Appropriate sanitary measures need to be taken to ensure that conditions for microbial contamination and toxin production are reduced or eliminated during the handling, transportation, packaging and storage of all agricultural products