Introduction

In 1974, the people of India came across to recognise hepatitis as a result of the consumption of maize contaminated with Aspergillus flavus. The outbreak of disease, lasted for 2 months, was confined to the Western Indian tribal population belonging to Banswada district of Rajasthan and Panchmahals district of Gujarat. The people suddenly began to show the symptoms of ascites and oedema of lower limbs and portal hypertensions. Hepatitis was reported in 200 villages confirming 106 deaths. The analysis of contaminated maize samples showed that the diet of affected people contained the fungus A. flavus in the range of 6.25-15.6 parts per million (ppm). This result means affected people might had consumed 20006000 pg/kg or parts per billion (ppb) of aflatoxins, daily over a period of 1 month (Krishnamachari et al. 1975). Tandon, Krishnamurthy and coworkers presumed that an epidemic of jaundice in north-Western India (1974) was also due to toxic hepatitis which affected both humans and dogs (Tandon et al. 1977). However, the word ‘aflatoxicosis’ had appeared in public news domain of India in the 1960s with reference to the sudden death of 2219 chicks in poultry farms of Mysore and other parts of Karnataka state (Gopal et al. 1969). In October, 1985, the egg production dropped from 85 to 40 % in and around Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, as impact of severe aflatoxicosis in poultry; this outbreak gradually increased when bird mortality rate decreased sharply after the feed—maize and groundnut cake, contaminated by aflatoxin—was changed (Sastry et al. 1965). The post-mortem examination of dead birds revealed liver lesions while aflatoxin content in feed samples was detected to be 600 ppb (Choudary 1986). In 1994, more than 0.2 million broiler chicken died in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh after eating aflatoxin-contaminated groundnut cake feed. The International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) revealed this fact (ICRISAT 2002). That conclusion means that the establishment of aflatoxin-disease correlation is till to date a challenging task, despite innovative laboratory testing procedures. In fact, the diagnosis of aflatoxicosis—like other mycotoxicoses—is difficult due to its symptoms being similar to those of diseases with other causes as well as presence of several mycotoxins along with aflatoxins in foods or feeds which synergise effects.

It may be remembered that the name ‘aflatoxin’ was first created around 1960 when it was discovered that the source of Turkey X—an avian disease spread in Great Britain—was an A. flavus toxin (Wannop 1961). The toxic material was extracted from it and chromatographically separated into four distinct compounds based on fluorescent colour—B for blue and G for green—with scripts relating to relative mobility in early 1960s (Nesbitt et al. 1962; Sargeant et al. 1963); two forms B1 and G1 were synthesised in late 1960s and early 1970s (Buechi and Weinreb 1971). The first reliable correlation between aflatoxin contamination and hepatomegaly among the children of Canara district of Karnataka in India was reported in mid-1970s (Sreenivasmurthy 1977). Despite several limitations of symptom distinction and co-mycotoxins’ synergy effects, Sreenivasmurthy’s studies of the correlation aflatoxin-hepatomegaly are till to date considered worthy when a hepatitis, is likely to be named ‘aflatoxicosis.’ On the other hand, the scientific knowledge of aflatoxin development in farm produce is extremely clear. Reddy and Raghavender report that adequate food monitoring programs are needed with relation to the possible occurrence of mycotoxins in notable amounts, because related outbreaks continue to be signalled in India (Reddy and Raghavender 2007).

It is worth mentioning that the prevention of mycotoxin contamination in farm yields is progressively becoming tougher worldwide due to global warming and flash floods. India is called the land of climatic contrasts with temperatures shot up to 50 °C in certain parts of Rajasthan and south-west Punjab in hot summer afternoon as well as dipped up to -40 °C in cold arid region of Cargill in severe winter night. Therefore, global warming and flash floods in India can determine the fast development of aflatoxins in food articles. Fast deforestation gives rise to adverse environmental conditions that affect farm produce in both pre-harvest and postharvest stages; therefore, Food business operators (FBO) in India have to face consequences as export consignment rejections and credibility loss.

 
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