April 21, 1997
Aflatoxins in Foods
The major family responsible for the production of Aflatoxins is the Aspergillus A. flavus. Aflatoxins are closely related family of mycotoxins which at high levels they can be carcinogenic. In 1965 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) put regulatory limits of 20 Parts Per Billion on Aflatoxins. I extracted samples from six brands of peanut butter, as well as WWC corn, and humus. The samples were then run through solid phase minicolumns, with a chloroform acetone mixture, to collect the aflatoxins. Then the samples were analyzed by TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography). Levels considerably below the FDA's limits were detected, with no trends obvious, in all types of samples. This suggests that Aflatoxins are present but not at levels which should cause alarm. This also demonstrates the problems with sampling since aflatoxins are spread out sporadically in the foods.