Fungal species isolated from peanuts in major Kenyan markets: Emphasis on Aspergillus section Flavi
Wagacha, John Maina
Christie, Maria Elisa
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A survey was conducted in Nairobi, Nyanza and Western provinces in Kenya between March and July 2009 with 1263 peanut products sampled out of which 705 samples underwent microbial analysis. The study aimed at determining the incidence of fungal species – emphasis on Aspergillus section Flavi – associated with peanut products. A 0.5 kg representative sample was obtained from each surveyed vendor and the colony forming units (CFU) of fungal species determined. The samples were also analyzed for total aflatoxin level while isolates of Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus were screened for production of aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2. Eight fungal species were detected in the samples and were in decreasing order of CFU/g of sample: A. flavus S-strain (467), A. flavus L-strain (341), Penicillium spp. (326), Aspergillus niger (156), Aspergillus tamari (27), Aspergillus alliaceus (21), A. parasiticus (10), and Aspergillus caelatus (5). The overall incidence of A. flavus S-strain in samples from Nairobi was 92 and 1425% higher than samples from Nyanza and Western regions, respectively. The combined incidence of A. flavus and A. parasiticus was varied significantly (p ≤ 0.05) with peanut product: peanut flour (69%), shelled raw peanuts (53%), spoilt peanuts (49%), boiled podded peanuts (45%), podded peanuts (39%), peanut butter (31%), fried peanuts (22%) and roasted peanuts (20%). Seventy three percent of A. flavus and A. parasiticus isolates produced at least one of the aflatoxin types, with 66% producing aflatoxin B1. The total aflatoxin level among peanut products ranged from 0 to 1629 μg/g; and there was a positive correlation (r = 0.2711) between the incidence of A. flavus and A. parasiticus, and total aflatoxin level. The high incidence of aflatoxin producing fungi in peanuts traded in Kenyan markets implies a risk of aflatoxin contamination, highlighting the need for stakeholders to promote sound practices at all stages of the peanut value chain in order to minimize market access by non-complying products.