This research aimed at evaluating the safety, and the type, level and prevalence of mycotoxins in grain sorghum of four sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali and Sudan). A multi-analyte LC-MS/MS method for quantification of 23 mycotoxins (nivalenol, deoxynivalenol, fusarenon X, neosolaniol, 3-acetyl deoxynivalenol, 15-acetyl deoxynivalenol, diacetoxyscirpenol, roquefortine C, HT-2 toxin, alternariol, T-2 toxin, FB1, FB2, FB3, zearalenone, aflatoxin G1, aflatoxin G2, aflatoxin B1, aflatoxin B2, sterigmatocystin, OTA, altenuene, alternariol monomethylether) was applied to different sorghum matrices. Of the 1533 analysed samples, 33% were contaminated with at least one of the following mycotoxins: aflatoxins, fumonisins, sterigmatocystin, Alternaria toxins, OTA and zearalenone. Country of origin, colour, source and collection period of sorghum samples significantly influenced the type, level and prevalence of mycotoxins. Sterigmatocystin (15%), fumonisins (17%) and aflatoxins (13%) were the most prevalent. FB1 (274 ± 585 µg/kg) had the highest mean concentration followed by FB2 (214 ± 308 µg/kg) while diacetoxyscirpenol (8.12 ± 19.2 µg/kg) and HT-2 (11.9 ± 0.00 µg/kg) had the lowest concentrations. Neosolaniol, fusarenon-X, 3-acetyl deoxynivalenol, 15-acetyl deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin, nivalenol and roquefortine C were not detected in any of the samples. Sudan had the lowest prevalence and mean concentration of all mycotoxins. Pink sorghum had the highest concentrations of fumonisins and aflatoxins. Mycotoxins from Aspergillus spp. and Alternaria spp. are the mycotoxins of concern in SSA grain sorghum with regard to prevalence, concentration and possible health risk from exposure. Based on the performed risk characterisation, daily consumption of sorghum containing aflatoxins, alternariol, alternariol monomethyl ether, sterigmatocystin and OTA could result in exceeding the established health-based guidance values for these toxins.
Keywords: Prevalence; health effects; mycotoxins; sorghum; sub-Saharan Africa.