Comprehensive Review of Aflatoxin Contamination, Impact on Health and Food Security, and Management Strategies in Pakistan

Toxins (Basel). 2022 Dec 2;14(12):845. doi: 10.3390/toxins14120845.


Aflatoxins (AFs) are the most important toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic fungal toxins that routinely contaminate food and feed. While more than 20 AFs have been identified to date, aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), B2 (AFB2), G1 (AFG1), G2 (AFG2), and M1 (AFM1) are the most common. Over 25 species of Aspergillus have been shown to produce AFs, with Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus, and Aspergillus nomius being the most important and well-known AF-producing fungi. These ubiquitous molds can propagate on agricultural commodities to produce AFs in fields and during harvesting, processing, transportation, and storage. Countries with warmer climates and that produce foods susceptible to AF contamination shoulder a substantial portion of the global AF burden. Pakistan's warm climate promotes the growth of toxigenic fungi, resulting in frequent AF contamination of human foods and animal feeds. The potential for contamination in Pakistan is exacerbated by improper storage conditions and a lack of regulatory limits and enforcement mechanisms. High levels of AFs in common commodities produced in Pakistan are a major food safety problem, posing serious health risks to the population. Furthermore, aflatoxin contamination contributes to economic losses by limiting exports of these commodities. In this review, recent information regarding the fungal producers of AFs, prevalence of AF contamination of foods and feed, current regulations, and AF prevention and removal strategies are summarized, with a major focus on Pakistan.

Keywords: Pakistan; aflatoxins; agricultural products; control; food safety and security; management.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxin B1
  • Aflatoxins* / analysis
  • Aflatoxins* / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Aspergillus flavus
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control
  • Food Security
  • Humans
  • Pakistan


  • Aflatoxins
  • Aflatoxin B1

Grant support

The work at UW-Madison was partially supported by the Food Research Institute.