Occurrence of Aspergillus spp. and Aflatoxin B1 in Malaysian Foods Used for Human Consumption



Abstract:  Malaysian population widely consumes the cereal-based foods, oilseeds, nuts, and spices in their daily diet. Mycotoxigenic fungi are well known to invade food products under storage conditions and produce mycotoxins that have threat to human and animal health. Therefore, determining toxigenic fungi and aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in foods used for human consumption is of prime importance to develop suitable management strategies and to minimize risk. Ninety-five food products marketed in Penang, Malaysia were randomly collected from different supermarkets and were analyzed for presence of Aspergillus spp. by agar plate assay and AFB1 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A. flavus was the dominant fungi in all foods followed by A. niger. Fifty-five A. flavus strains were tested for their ability to produce aflatoxins on rice grain substrate. Thirty-six (65.4%) strains out of 55 produced AFB1 ranging from 1700 to 4400 μg/kg and 17 strains (31%) produced AFB2 ranging from 620 to 1670 μg/kg. Natural occurrence of AFB1 could be detected in 72.6% food products ranging from 0.54 to 15.33 μg/kg with a mean of 1.95 μg/kg. Maximum AFB1 levels were detected in peanut products ranging from 1.47 to 15.33 μg/kg. AFB1 levels detected in all food products were below the Malaysian permissible limits (<35 μg/kg). Aspergillus spp. and AFB1 was not detected in any cookies tested. Although this survey was not comprehensive, it provides valuable information on aflatoxin levels in foods marketed in Malaysia.