Investigating aflatoxin contamination and knowledge levels in producing safe peanut butter among selected Lusaka urban processors. 

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Banda, Maureen Samson
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The University of Zambia
Aflatoxin contamination is a major global public health problem especially in developing countries. Its risk effect on human consumption of peanut butter has posed a serious public health challenge by increasing morbidity and mortality in human populations. In Zambia, local and international peanut butter is consumed by the public. The objective of the study was to determine aflatoxin levels in peanut butter and factors associated with its quality production in selected urban district outlets. The study also assessed the knowledge level and practice of producing peanut butter among local processors. This study compared aflatoxin levels in peanut butter between local and international products. A cross sectional comparative study survey used quantitative and qualitative approaches from selected outlets of Lusaka, Zambia. Samples from plants, commercial stores and Soweto market of Lusaka provided the data to answer the objective. A total of 109 peanut butter samples from local and international sources were collected. Samples were tested for aflatoxin contamination levels using AccuScan Reveal Q+ test in seeking to answer the hypothesis whether there was a difference in levels of aflatoxin between local and international peanut butter based on set standards. Besides clinical assessment of aflatoxin levels, 16 key informants were interviewed using an semi structured questionnaire guided to assess the level of knowledge about aflatoxin contamination, health risks and production skills as they processed peanut butter. The findings show that only 9 (8.3%) of the 109 (100%) peanut butter samples satisfied the 0 to 4ppb European set standard as safe for public consumption regardless of its origin. It was found that 100 (91.7%) samples of peanut butter from both local and international origin were contaminated with aflatoxin. Using the European standard, there was no sufficient evidence that the level of contamination was different between local and international peanut butter, P-value 0.0768. However, using the 15ppb standard, 83 (76.1%) samples from both local and international origin were safe for consumption based on the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) standard. There was a marked difference in proportions, between compared products had a p-value of less than 0.00001. Nevertheless, there was aflatoxin contamination of above 15ppb in a total of 26 (23.9%) samples of which 25 (22.9%) were locally produced and one (0.9%) was internationally produced. These samples were not safe for human ingestion. Generally, processors seemed to have little knowledge of aflatoxin contamination and health risk. The steps of producing peanut butter were largely similar between plants and Soweto in first stages, and dissimilar in the last steps. It is recommended that government regulations be strengthened to aid processors provide quality peanut butter on the market. In order to produce peanut butter with low aflatoxin levels, there is a needto come up with a standard to follow. Further research is recommended on how to assess and improve the quality of peanut butter production as well as increasing awareness to the public about the dangers of aflatoxin contamination.
Aflatoxin , Aflatoxin contamination , Food--Microbiology , Food industry and trade.