In human beings, high aflatoxin levels depress the immune system, thereby contributing to many health problems ranging from cancer and susceptibility to HIV, to stunted growth among children. This led governments in Africa to band together to stop the spread of Aflatoxins in the continent. At an October 2016 meeting with the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), Ugandan President, H.E. Yoweri Museveni called for a collective effort among African countries to address aflatoxin challenges.

However, postharvest storage remains the most overlooked stage for effectively preventing aflatoxin growth. In hot, humid climates, long term conventional storage can produce exponential growth of aflatoxins. It shows that restricting the increase in aflatoxin levels during both drying and long-term storage is a major challenge, particularly in hot and humid conditions.

An increasingly popular and inexpensive alternative method for controlling aflatoxin growth during multi-month storage is using flexible, Ultra Hermetic™ storage containers. This storage technology relies on creating a condition such that insect plus microflora respiration, and sometimes respiration of the commodity itself, is greater than residual intake of oxygen through ultra-low permeability container material. For the successful use of Ultra Hermetic storage as well as for other storage methods, crops must be adequately dried, typically to a point below their ―critical moisture level (in equilibrium with 65% relative humidity).

A new technical report on this topic is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Food Research’ April edition with added information from Professor Flavio Meira Borem, world leader in coffee research, post-harvest technology and new packaging materials. Download an advanced copy by following this link. –

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