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Mould and Aflatoxin Contamination of Dried Cassava Chips in Eastern Uganda: Association with Traditional Processing and Storage Practices

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Author(s): A.N. Kaaya | D. Eboku

Journal: Journal of Biological Sciences
ISSN 1727-3048

Volume: 10;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 718;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: mycotoxins | indigenous technology | Cassava products | moisture | fermentation

ABSTRACT
This study was conducted to establish the level of contamination of dry cassava chips by moulds and aflatoxins and the associated factors. The study was conducted in Kumi district, Eastern Uganda where respondents from ninety households provided information on the cassava processing and storage practices. Samples of dried cassava chips were also obtained from the households for moisture, mould and aflatoxin analyses. The factors that impact on mould and aflatoxin contamination of these products were established using regression analysis. Cassava chips had mean moisture content of 10.14%. Mean mould count was 5.0x104 cfu g-1 and higher counts were associated with extent of visible mouldiness of the products. Rhizopus sp. were the most prevalent (66.7%) moulds identified, followed by Mucor (37%), Penicillium (22.2%), Aspergillus (20.4%) and Fusarium species (5.6%). A. flavus was the most predominant mycotoxigenic mould isolated and occurred on 18.5% of the samples. Thirty percent of cassava samples tested positive for aflatoxin contamination with a range of 0- 4.5 μg kg-1 and mean of 0.51 μg kg-1. Drying cassava chips on bare ground; storing by heaping on bare floor and storage in old containers such as Jerricans were among the practices positively associated with aflatoxin contamination. Improved practices like drying on tarpaulin were negatively associated with aflatoxin contamination. Since cassava chips are distributed from Eastern to other parts of Uganda, these results show that consumers are exposed to the risk of aflatoxin poisoning. Efforts should therefore be made to improve the quality of cassava by addressing its handling and processing practices in Uganda.
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