Contamination of corn, peanuts, milk and dairy products with aflatoxins is a worldwide problem, particularly in subtropical regions where the climatic conditions are ideal for the growth of Aspergillus flavus, the fungi that produces these toxins. Developing countries have major difficulties in marketing these products abroad due to the stringent international regulations concerning this carcinogenic toxin. Adding to the problem is the analytical cost involved in monitoring the produce, which require sophisticated instrumentation and qualified personnel, neither of which are available for field testing. The development of a rapid Aflatoxin Quicktest™ provides an effective, reliable and cheaper option for screening levels of aflatoxin above the regulatory thresholds in such produce. The test consists of a lateral flow device (LFD) coated with antibodies specific to aflatoxin B1, although it detects other aflatoxins (i.e. G and M) with high cross-reactivity. Its high sensitivity allows analysis of these toxins in the range 2–40 μg/kg of sample in 15 minutes, plus the time for extraction, which varies among different products. Quantification of the test results is done using a Quick Reader, by comparing the readings of individual tests against a standard curve of the analytes in the same manner as it is done with any other analytical equipment. A validation study was carried out using peanuts from Australia and peanuts and corn from Timor-Leste to assess the performance of the Aflatoxin Quicktest™. Results obtained with the LFD showed a good correlation with the standard analytical measurements by HPLC-fluorescence (r2 above 0.90 for all cases), indicating the Aflatoxin Quicktest™ is capable of measuring levels of aflatoxins accurately and reliably. Given their ease of use, low cost and fast processing time, the Aflatoxin Quicktest™ can be used for screening agricultural produce in countries that cannot afford the costly alternative of using specialised personnel and equipment.
Part of the book: Poisoning