BACKGROUND: Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) is an important coarse cereal crop grown for grain and fodder in the semi-arid Tropics, mainly in Asian and African countries. In India sorghum is consumed as human food and poultry feed. Sorghum grain grown in the rainy season (kharif) is becoming severely affected by grain moulds, the major fungi involved being Aspergillus, Fusarium and Curvularia. If the extent of mould is severe, the grain is unsafe for consumption owing to contamination by mycotoxins.
RESULTS: This paper presents a multi-centre study conducted in sorghum to evaluate natural contamination of aflatoxin B1 in India. A total of 1606 grain sorghum samples were collected during the rainy (kharif) season across 4 years from seven states of India, representing different geographical regions of the country. Aflatoxin B1 contamination during 2007–08 was the highest (13.1%), followed by samples from the year 2004–05 (2.85%). The samples collected in years 2005–06 and 2006–07 showed contamination below 1%. The number of samples (35) showing aflatoxin B1 contamination above the safety limit was also highest during 2007–08 as compared to samples from the other years.
CONCLUSION: This study, conducted for 4 years, showed that natural contamination of aflatoxin B1 in sorghum grown in India is within safety limits (20 µg kg−1) recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Committee and 73% of samples were positive for toxin. However, 0.75% (12) of total samples contained aflatoxin above the safety limit. The overall occurrence of toxin from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan was below 5 µg kg−1. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry