Mould Contamination of ready-to-eat cereal-based foods retailed in lesotho with special reference to toxigenicAspergillus flavus

  • S Mohale
  • J Allotey
Keywords: RTE, Moulds, Sclerotia, Aspergillus flavus, Toxigenicity


Samples belonging to four different brands (Instant Morvite™, E-Papa™, Ace Instant Porridge™ and Roasted Morvite™) of ready-to-eat fortified cereal-based foodstuffs imported from the Republic of South Africa were bought from different retail outlets in the Roma valley, Lesotho and examined for contamination with moulds. All (100%) of Roasted Morvite™ and E-Papa™ examined were contaminated with fungi. The greatest average fungal load (1.33 × 105) was recorded on Roasted Morvite™
samples. Although all the E-papa™ samples were contaminated, the upper limit average mould load (1.0 × 104) was the lowest compared to other brands that were analysed. A total of 226 isolates belonging to five different genera (Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Wallemia and unidentified genus) were recovered. For each of the brands assessed, average mould counts for some samples were above maximum permissible limits (103 CFU/g) established by World Food Programme
guidelines for fortified blended foods. Aspergillus and Penicillium isolates exhibited greatest fungal population densities, 52.7%, 36.3%, respectively. Wallemia was the least frequently isolated genus in this study; only four isolates (1.8%) recovered from all the samples investigated belonged to this genus. Of the Aspergillus species
isolated, A. niger had the greatest relative density (39.5%) followed by A. flavus (37.8%), while Aspergillus amstelodami and unidentified Aspergillus species had the lowest. Of the 22 A. flavus isolates tested for sclerotia production potential, 18 produced large sclerotia with average diameter > 400.02±82.61 on Czapek solution, agar. Ten (56%) of these isolates were toxigenic as evidenced by formation of a blue fluorescence on the reverse of the plates when observed under UV (365 nm). It was concluded that the detection of above -permissible limits levels of moulds and aflatoxigenic fungi in some samples analysed presents a risk to consumers’ health. It
is, therefore, suggested that a statutory, independent and science-based body dedicated to protecting public health and consumer interest in the area of food safety and hygiene be established. The main function of such a body would be to take all reasonable steps to ensure that food produced, distributed or marketed in Lesotho meets the highest standards of food safety and hygiene available.

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eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358